The capsule was launched, minus a crew, using a New Shepard 2.0 reusable rocket. Both the booster and the capsule reached a maximum altitude of about 99 kilometers, according to the company, before coming back down to Earth. In all, the test flight lasted 10 minutes and 6 seconds after liftoff.
Equally importantly, the rocket and capsule also appeared to survive the test intact, with the rocket using its boosters for a controlled landing on a designated landing pad. The capsule using its parachutes to make a landing.
The seventh launch of the New Shepard series took place at the Corn Ranch spaceport in West Texas in the United States.
Dubbed Crew Capsule 2.0, this version of the spacecraft has large windows which will allow future space tourists a view of space from inside the capsule.
In a statement, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said, “It marks the inaugural flight of our next-generation Crew Capsule as we continue step-by-step progress in our test flight program. Congratulations to the entire Blue Origin team on a job well done and to our payload customers that gathered important data on the suborbital environment. Gradatim Ferociter.”
“Gradatim Ferociter”, which means “Step by Step, Ferociously”, is the motto of Blue Origin.
The intention is for Blue Origin to offer sub-orbital spaceflights to paying customers after it has been tested by astronauts. It was previously reported that crewed tests would take place at the end of 2017. This now looks possible at some point in 2018.