Blue Origin flies New Shepard rocket for eighth time

Blue Origin New Shepard craft

Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship stands on its pad for a 2016 test flight

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted on Friday that his aerospace company will be conducting its eighth test flight on Sunday, which will also be its first for 2018.

While New Shepard remains in the testing phase, Blue Origin is also working on another rocket that is said to compete head-to-head with SpaceX's commercial launch contracts. After separation, the booster will descend and fire its rocket against the surface to touch down on its landing legs, while the capsule will gradually float down on the end of a parachute.

Blue Origin's New Shepard 2.0 space capsule is created to fly 6 passengers on suborbital space tourism flights - trips that reach space but don't orbit the Earth - and can also carry commercial payloads and experiments. But Blue Origin hasn't yet set a ticket price or taken customer reservations for those crewed flights. He cautioned that the company will only "go when we're ready". After today's picture-perfect launch and landing, Bezos reported in a tweet that the craft reached 351,000 feet (107 kilometers).

New Shepard 2.0 space capsule is created to fly commercial payloads and up to 6 passengers on suborbital space flights for science and tourism. And more interestingly, it even accommodated a dummy named "Mannequin Skywalker" to help the company assess the forces that come into play during a suborbital spaceflight.

A test dummy nicknamed Mannequin Skywalker was placed in one of the crew capsule's six seats for the purposes of collecting flight data, just as it was for December's flight.

Once the BE-4 passes muster, Blue Origin plans to ramp up engine production at a new facility in Alabama, and integrate the engines with New Glenn rockets at its mammoth Florida factory. The orbital rocket's first stage is created to employ seven BE-4 engines, each generating an estimated 550,000 pounds (2,446 kilonewtons) of thrust, for a total of 3.85 million pounds (17,125 kN).

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The capsule separated at T+2:46, with the booster returning to the dusty West Texas plains, tail first, two miles from the launch site at T+7:35.

Nominally, the company maintains that it will begin flights with "test passengers" by the end of 2018, with commercial service beginning next year.

"Earth is the best planet in our solar system". In December, its seventh New Shepard mission launched, landed and successfully deployed the unmanned Crew Capsule 2.0.

While Bezos' Blue Origin and Musk's SpaceX have comparative objectives with regards to utilizing recyclable rockets, it wouldn't be very appropriate to call the two organizations competitors - at any rate not yet.

"We get that question a lot", Smith said.

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