How to watch Blue Origin launch New Shepard rocket live

Space																						
				
		
			Watch Blue Origin launch its New Shepard spacecraft live right here					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner

Blue Origin tested the motor at a lower altitude during a memorable flight back in October 2016, but the company's engineers wanted to make sure that the system would work as well at a higher altitude, where the atmosphere thins out to near-nothingness.

It's part of a safety system meant to save lives once space tourists and others climb aboard for suborbital hops.

The test flight also carried 12 payloads and even a passenger - specifically an instrumented dummy brilliantly named "Mannequin Skywalker".

Although Blue Origin is yet to provide details, it is understood the company has already purchased the first landing ship for returning New Glenn boosters.

The booster and capsule - both repeat fliers - landed successfully.

It's also not yet known how much Blue Origin plans to charge for rides in a New Shepard capsule.

Wednesday's flight will be the ninth by a New Shepard rocket, and the third using Blue Origin's most recent model of the single-stage vehicle, which debuted in December and made its second launch and landing in April.

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The vehicle's propulsion module boosted the crew capsule on a standard trajectory.

After launch, the capsule separated from the rocket just like it should, and then its emergency motor ignited - just as it's supposed to during an emergency situation. As hoped, the capsule was able to stabilize itself after the blast for its descent through the atmosphere.

Blue Origin's billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, has grand designs for moving people and commerce into space, and his efforts begin with Blue Origin's rockets.

The company's Florida team was watching today's webcast, as was the team at Blue Origin's headquarters in Kent, Wash., where New Shepard hardware is manufactured. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload.

Eventually, up to six passengers at a time could get on board the New Shepard spaceship, which flies under autonomous control. The Reuters news agency, quoting an unnamed source, recently reported that tickets were expected to initially cost between $200,000 and $300,000, making it competitive with rides aboard the winged spaceplane Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is developing. The launch from Blue Origin's test site in West Texas is set to occur at 14:00 UTC - with the test campaign now in the final leg ahead of carrying paying customers.

"But we've got our eye on the prize", she added.

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