Blue Origin to push New Shepard safety regime with ninth test

Blue Origin New Shepard launch

The test is scheduled to begin at 10 am EDT (14:00 UTC) at the company's West Texas launch site.

"We'll be doing a high altitude escape motor test - pushing the rocket to its limits", noted Blue Origin ahead of the test.

Blue Origin is owned by Jeff Bezos. One company sent up a system created to provide reliable WiFi connectivity in space, while another added a number of textiles to the capsule so they could test their viability for use in space suits.

In a brief statement announcing Wednesday's flight, Blue Origin offered no further details on the objectives or the technical parameters for the planned high-altitude escape motor test.

Update, 7:06 a.m. PT: The launch time has changed.

Eventually, up to six passengers at a time could get on board the New Shepard spaceship, which flies under autonomous control.

The climax of the uncrewed test flight came shortly after New Shepard's capsule separated from its booster and switched on its 70,000-pound-thrust escape rocket motor. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload.

Booster landing
New Shepard’s reusable booster comes in for a landing

However, executives said they haven't set a price yet, according to CNET.

While testing with New Shepard continues, work on Blue Origin's next vehicle, the New Glenn is pressing on, albeit mainly away from the attention of the media.

Although there weren't any people aboard this test flight, Blue Origin's test dummy, Mannequin Skywalker, was strapped in a chair to measure the gravitation forces a real body might experience during a somewhat violent abort. "At Blue Origin, we're all about safety", she said.

It's not clear whether the capsule will survive this test, The Verge reports. The company says more than 700 people have signed up to fly.

LC-11 will be used to test fire New Glenn engines, while LC-36 will be the launch site for the orbital rocket that is being placed to take on other vehicles in its class, such as those from SpaceX and United Launch Alliance.

The first test passengers may fly on the rocket as early as this year, with the first paying customers set to fly by 2019.

The West Texas launch facility is near Van Horn.

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