Blue Origin launches and lands the 13th test flight of its space tourism rocket New Shepard

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Jeff Bezos’ space firm Blue Origin on Tuesday performed the newest test flight of its rocket New Shepard at its facility in the West Texas desert.

The mission didn’t have passengers on board, though New Shepard launches with a capsule on high that’s designed to hold as many as six individuals for a mission. Known as NS-13, this mission was the 13th test flight of the system – in addition to a report seventh consecutive launch for the rocket booster carrying the capsule, because it has landed six occasions after prior missions.

NS-13 was initially scheduled to launch on Sept. 24, however a problem with the rocket’s energy provide delayed the mission.

Blue Origin launches a New Shepard rocket from its facility in Texas.

Blue Origin | gif by @thesheetztweetz

New Shepard is designed to carrying individuals on a trip previous the edge of space, with the capsules on earlier test flights reaching an altitude of greater than 340,000 toes (or greater than 100 kilometers). The capsule spends as a lot as 10 minutes in zero gravity earlier than returning to Earth, with large home windows to present passengers a view.

While it is not carrying a crew, the NS-13 mission featured a quantity of payloads, equivalent to microgravity experiments and analysis. Blue Origin stated there are 12 payloads on board from paying clients, most notably NASA’s SPLICE (“Safe and Precise Landing – Integrated Capabilities Evolution”) expertise demonstration.

SPICE is designed to present spacecraft like lunar landers “artificial eyes,” to assist extra precisely discover areas secure to land. The NASA tech is mounted on the New Shepard booster, and will use a mixture of terrain navigation, Doppler lidar, and a descent laptop to focus on the booster’s touchdown zone. The purpose of the SPICE expertise is to permit a spacecraft to land autonomously on the Moon’s floor inside about 300 toes of its supposed goal, which NASA describes as a “high accuracy landing.” Blue Origin stated that NS-13 is the first of two deliberate flights with the SPLICE demonstrator on board.

Blue Origin final performed a test flight of New Shepard in December 2019. As the firm flew three New Shepard flights final 12 months, the 9 month hiatus is uncommon – however Blue Origin acquired inner push again from staff when it deliberate to conduct a mission shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic started in the U.S., The Verge reported in April. At the time, Blue Origin informed The Verge that it was monitoring the coronavirus difficulty and holds “safety as our highest value.”

The firm has but to fly passengers on its rockets, with CEO Bob Smith earlier this 12 months saying the firm’s New Shepard rocket might want to fly three or 4 extra test flights earlier than it places individuals on board.

Bezos personally funds Blue Origin’s improvement by promoting half of his inventory in Amazon. While he has beforehand stated that he sells about $1 billion of Amazon shares yearly to fund the space firm, Bezos has not too long ago elevated his inventory gross sales, promoting greater than $7.2 billion price this 12 months and $2.eight billion in 2019 – suggesting he has elevated his annual funding in Blue Origin.

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