LIVE: Watch Blue Origin Launch Its New Shepard Rocket

  • Blue Origin is scheduled to launch its reusable New Shepard rocket from its Texas facility this morning.
  • Liftoff is scheduled for 11:57 a.m. EST.
  • This will be the 14th suborbital test flight of New Shepard rocket, which Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos eventually hopes to send to the edge of space—packed with paying customers, of course.

    Update 01/14/21 12:45 p.m. EST: After a brief hold, Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket from the company’s launch facility in West Texas.

    Credit: Blue Origin

    Roughly seven and a half minutes after launch, New Shepard’s booster landed back on the pad.

    Credit: Blue Origin

    The crew capsule reached an apogee of 350,827 feet before returning to Earth nearly 10 minutes after launch.

    Credit: Blue Origin

    Original article below:

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, Blue Origin, is slated to launch its reusable New Shepard launch vehicle from Launch Site One at the company’s Texas facility today. Liftoff is scheduled for 11:57 a.m. EST.

    You like badass rockets. So do we. Let’s nerd out over them together.

    The suborbital test should take New Shepard to the very edge of space, roughly 62 miles above Earth’s surface. Watch a live stream of the action right here:

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    New Shepard is designed to ferry passengers and payloads on an 11-minute flight to or just past the Kármán line, the generally recognized border of outer space. The suborbital rocket is fully reusable and, like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 orbital rocket, has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.

    New Shepard is powered by Blue Origin’s BE-3 engine, which generates 110,000 pounds of thrust upon launch. (Falcon 9’s Merlin engine, by comparison, generates around 190,000 pounds of thrust.)

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    This will be the 14th test flight for the 60-foot-tall rocket since April 2015. The latest test, which broke a rocket reuse record, took place last October.

    In preparation for today’s flight—and ultimately future crewed missions—the “crew capsule will be outfitted with upgrades for the astronaut experience as the program nears human space flight,” Blue Origin announced in a January 13 statement. These upgrades include new display panels and changes to acoustics and temperature regulation in the crew capsule.

    Blue Origin will also fly an instrumented test dummy named Mannequin Skywalker, which will be strapped into one of the newly installed six passenger seats. Plus, the company plans to test a new communication and safety systems.

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    In recent tests, Blue Origin has sent several scientific payloads from NASA, research institutions, and various companies to the edge of space, where they can take advantage of the brief microgravity. Last October’s flight, for example, tested a new lunar landing technology that could help spacecraft ease their way onto the moon’s surface without tipping over.

    As is the case with many rocket programs, however, the New Shepard program has fielded a number of delays. In 2019, Bezos said he hoped to conduct crewed test flights later that year. Today, Blue Origin has only lifted Mannequin Skywalker off the ground. But a company spokesperson estimated during a webcast of the October 2020 launch that it would take “just a couple more flights before we start to put humans on board.”

    Blue Origin is developing its next-generation orbital rocket, New Glenn, for future missions. The heavy lift rocket will ferry payloads and crew to the lunar surface and beyond.

    Last month, Space.com reported that NASA added New Glenn to its roster of commercial launch vehicles for upcoming missions later this decade.

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