Blue Origin returned to its impressive New Shepard test flight program with a new phase of upgrades on the path towards flying paying customers into suborbit. The latest test launch took place on Tuesday, with a brand new rocket and an upgraded crew capsule that closer resembles the spacecraft that will launch passengers. On board was the test dummy “Mannequin Skywalker”.
Blue Origin debuted a new vehicle on Tuesday, taking over test operations from the since-retired vehicle that achieved numerous milestones and successes.
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The first New Shepard flight took place in April 2015 and saw the rocket launch successfully, delivering its Crew Capsule to an altitude of 307,000 ft – still inside Earth’s atmosphere and below the Karman line, the internationally recognized point (100 km, 62.13 mi, 328,084 feet in altitude) at which aeronautics ends and astronautics begins.
However, that first test did not result in the recovery of the booster because of a loss of pressure event in the booster’s hydraulic system.
The second flight occurred in November 2015 and kick-started a successful run of test flights, with the New Shepard booster ...