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Blue Origin will perform a high-altitude abort test at 10AM ET

Blue Origin will perform a high-altitude abort test at 10AM ET

The booster and spacecraft blasted off from the company's launch site in West Texas shortly after 11 a.m.

Blue Origin will once again be putting a mannequin onboard the New Shepard capsule today to measure the various forces it feels as it rides the powerful rocket skyward.

New Shepard performed as expected during today's flight, appearing to ace the test, Cornell said. Blue Origin accomplished a low-altitude abort test with a previous version of the New Shepard vehicle in October 2016, proving the capsule's solid-fueled abort motor could get passengers away from a catastrophic in-flight failure.

This is Blue Origin's ninth mission. It should start at 8 a.m. PT.

Then both the booster and the capsule made picture-perfect landings back at Blue Origin's West Texas test site, within sight of the launch pad. Unlike NASA's Mercury and Apollo spacecraft, which jettisoned their escape rockets before reaching orbit, Blue Origin's is built into the capsule.

The reusable New Shepard rocket settles to a picture-perfect touchdown.

The launch included a number of different scientific instruments, medical items, and testing materials, along with Blue Origin's "Fly My Stuff" program, where the company's employees send their own materials into space. "It's coming", she said.

"Just another day at the office", said Cornell. After that, both the capsule and the rocket safely returned to Earth.

Blue Origin is developing a much bigger rocket, called New Glenn, as an orbital launcher.

The company's Florida team was watching today's webcast, as was the team at Blue Origin's headquarters in Kent, Wash., where New Shepard hardware is manufactured. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload.

Today's mission was created to test the high-altitude escape motor of New Shepard's crew capsule, said representatives of Blue Origin, which is run by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.

Strapped into reclining seats at launch, the New Shepard passengers will be able to unstrap and briefly float about the cabin near the top of its trajectory when they will experience five to six minutes of weightlessness and enjoy the view from the largest windows ever built into an operational spacecraft. The company has yet to start selling tickets for the vehicle and has not established an official price for those flights.

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