Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, plans to attempt the 14th flight of its New Shepard missile system from West Texas on Thursday morning.
The rocket has a capsule designed to fly six people outside the unofficial boundary of space, or about 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the earth’s surface.
No human space tourists will fly aboard the capsule, but a crash test dummy named “Mannequin Skywalker” wants to record flight experience data.
Blue Origin plans to stream live video of the launch effort via YouTube starting at 11:30 a.m. EST on Thursday prior to an 11:57 a.m. EST uplift.
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Blue Origin, founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, will launch a crash test dummy outside the edge of space, or about 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the earth’s surface.
This will be the 14th flight of the compact yet powerful Shepard rocket, a reusable system designed to give well-meaning tourists a ride of a lifetime, with a few minutes of weightlessness and remarkable views of Earth and space.
NS-14, as the mission is called, is scheduled to be lifted at 11:57 a.m. EST of the company’s Launch Site One in the desert at Van Horn, Texas. Blue Origin plans to broadcast live footage of the launch, embedded via YouTube below, starting at 11:30 a.m. EST.
“The capsule will be equipped with upgrades to the crew capsule for the astronaut experience as the program approaches human spaceflight,” said Sara Blask, a Blue Origin spokeswoman, in an email to Business Insider. “The upgrades include improvements to environmental features such as acoustics and temperature control in the capsule, crew panels and speakers with a microphone and button to press on each seat.”
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Eric Berger, senior space editor at Ars Technica, stated that the capsule is glowing, not a model Blue Origin has flown before, and will fly again one day with a maximum of six people on board. The cost of each passenger’s ticket could be $ 250,000 more, as would the cost of Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flights planned by billionaire Richard Branson.
“[A] successful flight tomorrow can be good for human missions later this year, ”Berger twittere on Wednesday, adding that “placing human accounts in seats invites a lot of risk, so understandably they want confidence in their launch system. The point of reaching regular human access to suborbital space will be great.”
However, space analytics firm Astralytical predicted this week that Blue Origin is unlikely to start passenger service soon. This is likely due to the company’s caring culture, the company said Tuesday, and the healthy bankroll by Bezos, which liquidates approximately US $ 1 billion of its Amazon shares each year to fund the space agency’s various programs.
Blue Origin is in no hurry to begin manning commercial spaceflight operations. The company has yet to begin test flights with crew with its own employees, let alone start selling tickets, ” Laura forczyk, The founder of Astralytical, wrote in her analysis. She added that there is “a moderately low chance” Bezos’s company will start passenger flights within the next three years, although its company twittere a successful NS-14 flight would improve its prospect.
The six-seat capsule will also test new “astronaut communications and safety alarm systems”, Bask said, and record an abundance of safety data via a crash test dummy called “Mannequin Skywalker” (who previously flew on successful New Shepard missions) . Full in the baby’s pockets will be a number of postcards sent to Blue Origin, mostly by children, plus about 50,000 other cards elsewhere in the space capsule.
If all goes according to plan, the New Shepard rocket will explode from its launch site at 11:57 a.m. EST, deploy the new space capsule a few minutes later, and re-ignite the engine to soar after landing on a concrete path. This allows Blue Origin to re-use the rocket as a “tail” for future missions, saving millions of dollars in the process.
The capsule will meanwhile return to Earth after reaching an apex in its flight just past the Karman line, the unofficial boundary of space. While the spacecraft re-submits the lower regions of the atmosphere, it will deploy a series of parachutes to slow down the descent and drift to a soft landing in the West Texas desert.
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