Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard Climbs to the Edge of Space

Nearly 20 years after its creation, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin aerospace company is hard at work trying to catch up with rival Elon Musk and his SpaceX. Judging by the rate at which Blue launches stuff up into the air, that moment might come sooner than expected.
Blue Origin New Shepard takeoff 2 photos
Photo: Blue Origin
Blue Origin New Glenn
In the last days of April, Blue origin conducted the eighth test flight for the New Shepard booster-capsule assembly, managing to send the rocket and capsule to a targeted altitude of 66 miles (107 km),

The capsule was “manned” by a test dummy Blue Origin likes to call Mannequin Skywalker, who flew to space to “conduct astronaut telemetry and science studies.

This eight test flight is as close to the real deal as they get. The capsule on top of the New Shepard was crammed with research payloads from NASA, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and commercial customers.

This test was the second carrying commercial payloads. Each of the items sent to the edge of space was fitted with a so-called Blue Origin Payload Locker, a system used to provide structural, power, and data interfaces. For the flight, Blue Origin used the vehicle flown on the previous test.

The New Shepard suborbital system is one of two machines Blue Origin is developing. The second one is called New Glenn, and it is an orbital launch vehicle.

New Shepard is a fully reusable vertical takeoff, vertical landing space vehicle, comprising a pressurized capsule mounted on top of a booster.

Pretty much the same technology used by Elon Musk and SpaceX in their Falcon-Dragon system.

For the foreseeable future, Blue Origin will be focusing on test flights with no crew on board. Manned missions are also planned, but no schedule for them has been yet announced. When humans are allowed onboard, six of them will be able to fit in a space ten times larger than the one Alan Shepard had on his Mercury flight.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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