, the rocket company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, took another step closer on Thursday to launching humans to space with its latest New Shepard mission.
The 14th test flight of the company’s first spaceflight vehicle boosted a crew capsule with some new bells and whistles that will eventually be enjoyed by tourists the company hopes to take on joy rides into microgravity.
“The upgrades include improvements to environmental features such as acoustics and temperature regulation inside the capsule, crew display panels, and speakers with a microphone and push-to-talk button at each seat,” read a statement from Blue Origin before the launch. “The mission will also test a number of astronaut communication and safety alert systems. The capsule will be outfitted with six seats, including one occupied by Mannequin Skywalker.”
The brand new New Shepard rocket blasted off from west Texas at about 9:20 a.m. PT Thursday. The crew capsule separated and continued on to the edge of space while the booster returned for a successful vertical landing about two miles away from the launch pad. Meanwhile, Mannequin Skywalker and the upgraded crew capsule landed with the help of parachutes just a few minutes later.
The whole thing took only about 10 minutes from launch to the soft landing of the capsule.
It’s been over five years since New Shepard made its first pioneering flight to space followed by a successful vertical landing. Blue Origin’s process of working toward sending its first human passenger to space has been slower than the company originally hoped for, but such is the case when it comes to space tourism. Competitorhas experienced delays of its own in recent years.
Blue Origin has not yet announced pricing or when it will begin taking reservations for space flights.
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