Meanwhile, capsule boosters made rocket-propelled landings on nearby pads, while experimental NASA sensors were inserted through their paces as part of a project to protect, for more precise guidance technologyIn the agency .
It was the seventhA line for rockets and capsules and 13th overall for Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the company began launching sub-orbital astronauts to space tourists, researchers and other paying customers have make.
While New Sheppard is not capable of orbital flight, passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness when viewed from altitudes above 62 miles, which is internationally recognized amidst an internationally recognizable environment and space ” Range “.
NASA, the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration consider 50 miles as the dividing line, while the Federation of Aviation-International Sports, an international governing body for aviation-related sports and records, limits 100 kilometers or 62 miles.
The New Shepard capsule is designed to exceed both of those standards and the spacecraft only operated on Tuesday.
Running nearly three weeks late due to a power issue, the booster exploded at 9:36 am EDT, which climbed on top of a spectacular jet. After two minutes and 25 seconds of liftoff, climbing to an altitude of more than 2,000 mph, the rocket released the New Shepard capsule to climb to an altitude of about 66 miles or 346,964 feet.
The capsule then began to fall back to Earth, deploying three large parachutes before settling into a gentle touchdown 10 minutes and nine seconds after launch. The New Shepard booster, meanwhile, landed two and a half minutes earlier under rocket power.
For Tuesday’s flight, the New Shepard capsule was loaded with 12 commercial payloads, including experiments with NASA, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute, Space Lab Technologies, University of Florida, and Space Environmental Technologies.
Also on board: Thousands of postcards sent to Blue Origin’s club for the future.
One of the experiments, NASA’s Dorbit, Decent and Landing Sensor Demonstration Project, aims to develop technology that will allow spacecraft to make precise landings on the Moon in an area half of a football field. The program is known as SPLICE, a brief introduction to a safe and accurate landing – the development of integrated capabilities.
The system uses a special computer and three sensors, two of which were mounted on the New Shepard rocket for Tuesday’s flight.
The top of the rocket had a sensor dedicated to relative navigation, using an inertia measurement unit and a camera to determine the exact location of the rocket during flight.
The second sensor package was designed to fire laser beams at the surface, which gives time to their reflections to determine the rocket’s velocity and altitude. A third sensor, which is not flown on Tuesday, aims to identify surface hazards as the spacecraft descends so that they can be avoided.
Tuesday’s flight was the first of two to test guidance technology by NASA.
NASA sensor technical integration manager John Carson said in a statement, “Sensor data is processed through all the descent and landing computers,” adding in a statement “other software in the background runs a lot, integrating different systems Does, figuring out what needs to be run next “and, for this test, synchronizing time with the Blue Origin flight computer.
“It’s all important so that the system can run autonomously and provide us with data that we can analyze after the flight.”
Blue Origin is developing both sub-orbital and large Orbit-class New Glenn rockets that will use a powerful new engine, the BE-4, to help the satellites orbit. The engine will also be used by the upcoming Vulcan rocket of the United Launch Alliance, which aims to replace the Workhorse Atlas and Delta Booster.
Blue Origin has built a huge rocket factory just outside the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to build the New Glen Booster and is developing a launch pad at the nearby Canaveral Air Force Station.
The company is leading a team designing a moon lander to transport astronauts from the lunar surface to NASA’s Artesis program. SpaceX and Dynamics are also designing competitive lander. NASA hopes to select one and possibly two designs next February for long-term development.