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.
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. The goal: to test the altitude escape motor, the motor that would engage if astronauts needed to make a fast getaway due to some unforeseen circumstances in space. Maximum ascent velocity was listed at 2,236 miles per hour.
The motor performed as expected, giving the capsule an extra boost and setting an altitude record of 118.8 kilometers before landing by parachute 11 minutes after liftoff.
"Anything could have happened today, and this is the best possible outcome", launch commentator Ariane Cornell said.
Although Blue Origin is yet to provide details, it is understood the company has already purchased the first landing ship for returning New Glenn boosters.
However, Blue Origin rebuked the amount in a statement. (Blue Origin via YouTube) Blue Origin sketches out the flight plan for "Mission 9". "It's coming", she said.
New Shepard’s reusable booster comes in for a landing
Later, in a tweet, Bezos said the capsule looked "great even after it was pushed hard by the escape test".
"Astronauts would have had an exhilarating ride and safe landing", he said.
The launch was pulled off without a hitch: both the booster and the crew capsule returned to Earth. As hoped, the capsule was able to stabilize itself after the blast for its descent through the atmosphere. The next flight, Cornell said, will feature "finished customer interiors" like those that will be used on commercial flights of the vehicle, meant to carry up to six people. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 350,000 feet (106,680 meters), which was about five percent higher than previous New Shepard test flights.
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.
Unlike SpaceX, which thus far has largely focused on sending cargo into space as opposed to humans, Blue Origin is leading the charge on space tourism and crewed missions. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload. The dummy, flying on board a New Shepard ship for the third time, will allow scientists to test future passenger conditions.