Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rocket company has tested the New Shepard reusable rocket taking it off from west Texas and sending a capsule into space higher than it ever has before, to an altitude of 389,846ft or 74 miles.
A test of the abort of capsule in space was also performed. Wednesday's passenger was Mannequin Skywalker, an instrumented dummy in a blue flight suit which has flown before, plus science experiments. The mannequin was strapped in a chair to measure the gravitation forces a real body might experience during a somewhat violent abort.Both the rocket booster and the large-windowed crew capsule landed safe later. The capsule parachuted down to the desert floor.
Mr Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon, aims to send people and payloads into orbit from Cape Canaveral. Those missions will rely on the bigger, more powerful New Glenn rocket still under development. Blue Origin has plans to do space tourism. In the coming decade, space tourists may regularly return to Earth in a calm, well-controlled fashion , like Wednesday's landing, they say. The rocket company plans to charge customers between $200,000 and $300,000 for a ride into space beginning next year but executives said they haven’t set a price yet. "We will fly passengers when we are ready. We have a flight test schedule and schedules of those types always have uncertainties and contingencies. Anyone predicting dates is guessing," a statement said.