Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket lifts off from West Texas on Wednesday. Credit: Blue Origin
Blue Origin, the commercial space company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, launched a package of NASA experiments to the edge of space Wednesday from West Texas with a suborbital New Shepard booster, then successfully recovered the reusable rocket and space capsule a few minutes later.
The single stage rocket, powered by a BE-3 engine burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, took off at 10:05 a.m. EST (9:05 a.m. CST; 1505 GMT) from Blue Origin’s test site north of Van Horn, Texas, according to Ariane Cornell, a company sales director who anchored a video webcast of the mission.
After more than a month of delays caused by vehicle issues and bad weather, the New Shepard climbed to an altitude of more than 350,000 feet — about 106 kilometers — after firing the BE-3 engine for nearly two-and-a-half minutes. A capsule carrying the NASA research payloads separated from the New Shepard booster moments later, and the pair coasted toward apogee, the highest altitude of the mission, before descending back into the atmosphere.
The booster deployed air brakes to slow its descent, then reignited the BE-3 engine ...