Blue Origin will conduct test flight of New Shepard April 29

Company plans to transport people to suborbital space as soon as this year.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Sep 17, 2018
Blue Origin will launch a test flight of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle on Sunday, April 29, from its test site in West Texas. The launch is New Shepard's first for 2018.

CEO Jeff Bezos announced via twitter that "Launch preparations are underway for New Shepard's eighth test flight, as we continue our progress toward human spaceflight. Currently targeting Sunday 4/29 with launch window opening up at 8:30 AM CDT. Livestream info to come @BlueOrigin."

New Shepard's previous test flight occurred in December 2017 and debuted a new Version 2.0 crew capsule with very large windows. Like all previous test flights, it was un-crewed although it featured a dummy named "Mannequin Skywalker," which carried scientific instruments.

The company's goal is for the combination of rocket and capsule to transport both commercial passengers and science experiments back and forth to suborbital space. According to company spokespeople, space tourism could start later this year.

Both the rocket and capsule are reusable. Parachutes will land the capsule back on Earth while the booster is designed to return through a combination of parachutes and engine firings. The latter will slow the booster's descent, enabling it to land vertically, much like SpaceX's Falcon 9 boosters do although the latter come from orbit rather than suborbital space.

Like SpaceX, Blue Origin has long-term plans to bring people to space. With its New Glenn heavy-lift orbital rocket, the company will venture beyond suborbital space. First launch of New Glenn is currently scheduled for 2020.

Bezos also has plans for another vehicle, the New Armstrong, about which few details have been revealed.

In the long-term, Bezos envisions Blue Origin as playing a major role in bringing millions of people to live and work in space.

Bezos reported he invests $1 billion a year into Blue Origin by selling stock from another prominent company he owns, Amazon.com.

 

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