Blue Origin Launches, Lands Rocket In West Texas
Van Horn, TEXAS - Blue Origin launched and landed a rocket in a dramatic display at its facility in west Texas Wednesday morning.
The capsule at the top of the rocket was carrying micro-gravity experiments for NASA.
The New Shepard rocket carried the capsule to an altitude of 350,775 feet or about 66 miles. The capsule then separated from the rocket.
The capsule parachuted to the ground, firing retrorockets milliseconds before touchdown to cushion its landing.
The booster used fins and air brakes to control its descent, then fired its main rocket and executed a perfect landing on its retractable gear.
The rocket reached a maximum speed of 2,226 miles per hour in a 10-minute flight, which began at 9:05 a.m. Oklahoma time. Once the booster shut down its hydrogen-fueled rocket, then it and the capsule climbed to their apex, which allowed the experiments on board to experience about five minutes weightlessness.
This was the 10th test flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard launch system, which is fully automated and reusable.
Blue Origin says the New Shepard capsule will carry six people and/or experiments into space. Those six people could be scientists or tourists.
The U.S. Air Force considers 50 miles the minimum for being considered in space, while the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale -- the international organization that maintains aviation and aerospace records -- sets it at 62.
Blue Origin, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has built a rocket factory near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to manufacture its new, bigger boosters and is developing a launch pad at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.