The test flight was another check-up for Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket before the company eventually flies test pilots, and ultimately paying passengers, on the vehicle.
In an ambitious project, the New Shepherd rocket is created to eventually bring passengers into space, taking them on an 11-minute flight in a capsule that will land back on Earth with the help of parachutes.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' space flight company Blue Origin is testing its New Shepard rocket for the eighth time on Sunday, part of the company's preparations to send humans into space by the end of the year. The vehicle, named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard, lifted off at about 13:07 EST (1707 GMT) from its West Texas test site. If all goes well, Blue Origin could potentially begin launching people into on New Shepard this year, company representatives have said. After separation, the booster will descend and fire its rocket against the surface to touch down on its landing legs, while the capsule will gradually float down on the end of a parachute.
Word of the launch came today in a tweet. The live stream of the New Shepard launch is expected to be made available on the company's website at approximately 9:30 am EDT (7 pm IST) and at 9:45 am EDT (7:15 pm IST), the spacecraft will be launched to the edge of space where the capsule will then separate from the rocket while both returns safely to Earth.
"With each flight, [they'll] continuously improve the affordability of space exploration and research, opening the space for all", Blue Origin said.More news: Influential Burning Man festival co-founder dead, aged 70
Not only was this the second flight of a new version of the capsule with large windows, but the webcast's host, Ariane Cornell, repeatedly discussed the customer experience.
Blue Origin to conduct New Shepard's eight test flight.
Blue Origin tweeted that dummy astronaut, affectionately nicknamed "Mannequin Skywalker" was on board New Shepard for his 2nd mission. But the approach is no less steady: Bezos is devoting billions of dollars' worth of his personal riches to Blue Origin, in line with his vision of having millions of people living and working in space.
Vertical launch and landing capabilities are touted as SpaceX's signature move, but only a few know that Blue Origin was the first one to nail the controlled descent.
The first stage of New Glenn is planned to use the same design elements as New Shepard, so the New Shepard tests, while not on the same scale, continue to help prove out hardware and operations for New Glenn. Passengers can also take in the view from the edge of space as the rocket makes a touchdown in order to be used again in the future.