Blue Origin launch brings space tourism one step closer

/ Source: CNBC.com

By Michael Sheetz, CNBC

Blue Origin, the space company of Jeff Bezos, completed a record-breaking launch of its New Shepard rocket on Thursday.

Lifting off from Blue Origin’s facility in West Texas, the mission was the first time the company launched and landed one of its rockets five times. Additionally, the rocket sent a company record 38 research and development experiments to the edge of space.

The New Shepard rocket sent the company’s capsule to an altitude of 346,406 feet — more than 100 kilometers up.

Blue Origin, which Bezos founded nearly two decades ago, is developing the New Shepard rocket system for the company’s space tourism business. Six passengers would ride past the edge of space, where they would spend about 10 minutes floating in zero gravity before returning back to Earth. The capsule features massive windows, providing expansive views of the Earth once in space.

Named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space, the New Shepard system is reused by Blue Origin. Reusability is a key part of Blue Origin’s plan to turn space tourism into a business. Similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket system, New Shepard’s booster — the bottom and largest section of the rocket — launches straight up and then returns straight down to land.

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