Published: Sat, December 16, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

After 14 months, a new and improved New Shepard flies again

After 14 months, a new and improved New Shepard flies again

The first rocket, which launched for the first time in April 2015, successfully deployed the capsule around 300,000 feet, but then crashed during the attempted landing due to a loss of hydraulic pressure in the control system on descent.

While SpaceX has suffered a few setbacks and delays this week for the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to the International Space Station, competitor Blue Origin is making strides. " Bezos tweeted a video of the launch and said, "#NewShepard had a successful first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0 today. "Complete with windows and our instrumented test dummy". Blue Origin's CEO Bob Smith said that the company is aiming to send its first customers to space in early in 2019 (though there is no word on ticket prices yet). Unlike the company's most recent test launches, Blue Origin did not provide updates or a public live video feed of the flight.

These photos released by Blue Origin several hours after the flight show the rocket and capsule back on the ground after traveling to a maximum altitude of about 322,000 feet (61 miles; 98 kilometers).

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The New Shepard is created to provide passengers with a short, weightless experience during an 11-minute flight to space.

The New Shepard rocket, which also carried additional commercial and research payloads, came back to earth for a powered landing around 10 minutes after launch.

Today's test flight may well presage some big things from Blue Origin in the near future. In fact, Blue Origin has had a relatively quiet 2017 compared to the company's previous years.

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The prize for the booster's survival was a well-earned retirement from test operations and a tour of Blue Origin events around the United States. It was also the first flight of an upgraded crew capsule, dubbed "Crew Capsule 2.0", that includes windows the company says are the largest ever flown on a spacecraft.

Crew members are expected to be involved in test flights next year, with it announced in October that tourists would be able to head into orbit within 18 months.

The footage follows the space capsule as it uses three parachutes and small thrusters to touch down in the desert at just 1 mile per hour. After the rocket takes off, the capsule detaches from the top portion and continues flying until it reaches about 62 miles above the Earth's surface.

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