On Wednesday, commercial space company Blue Origin performed an “extreme” test launch of its New Shepard rocket and crew capsule system.
Image Credit: Blue Origin/YouTube
The rocket and its payload blasted off from a company-owned launch pad in West Texas approximately one hour behind schedule. Upon reaching a suitable altitude, the crew capsule’s emergency escape motor ignited and pushed it 74 miles above Earth’s surface – a record height for a Blue Origin spacecraft.
“On Mission 9, we’re firing the crew capsule escape motor at the highest altitude ever,” Blue Origin said in a statement.
“We are stressing the rocket to test that astronauts can get away from an anomaly at any time during flight.”
The crew capsule was uncrewed throughout the duration of Wednesday’s test launch, but a dummy named ‘Mannequin Skywalker’ occupied a passenger seat inside. Several science experiments were also allegedly onboard to collect data and monitor performance.
As the 11-minute procedure came to an end, the rocket booster made a spectacular upright landing and the crew capsule soon followed after discharging its parachutes.
Image Credit: Blue Origin
Blue Origin filmed the entire event, and a full video of the launch is available for your viewing pleasure below:
Mission 9 marked Blue Origin’s ninth successful test flight, and both the rocket booster and the crew capsule that flew on Wednesday had been used in previous launches.
In the future, Blue Origin wants to commercialize their rocket/crew capsule combo into a space tourism program that allows paying customers to visit outer space. Tests like the one performed on Wednesday ensure that the space vehicle and its emergency equipment will be safe enough for everyone involved.