[The livestream has ended. A replay is available above.]
Jeff Bezos’ private space company Blue Origin launched and landed the fourteenth test flight of his New Shepard rocket thruster and capsule, a system designed to carry people on short trips to the edge of space. .
The mission had no passengers on board, although the capsule above the rocket was designed to carry up to six people for future flights. Known as the NS-14, this mission also marked the first flight of a new rocket thruster and improved crew capsule. The rocket thruster and capsule that flew Blue Origin’s NS-13 mission in October remain operational, with the company saying it is now dedicated to flying research payloads in microgravity.
The new NS-14 capsule features several enhancements to the Blue Origin astronaut experience.
“The upgrades include improvements to environmental features such as acoustics and temperature regulation inside the capsule, crew display panels and speakers with microphone and push button at each seat. The mission will also test a number of communications and astronaut safety. warning systems, ”the company said in a blog post.
The interior of the latest New Shepard capsule
New Shepard is designed to carry people on a journey beyond the edge of space, with capsules on previous test flights reaching altitudes of over 340,000 feet (or over 100 kilometers). The capsule spends up to 10 minutes in zero gravity before returning to Earth, with massive windows to give passengers a view.
Blue Origin noted that “all mission crews supporting this launch are implementing strict social distancing and safety measures to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 to staff, customers and surrounding communities.”
Bezos is personally funding the development of Blue Origin by selling part of his stock on Amazon. While he previously said he sells about $ 1 billion in Amazon shares a year to fund the space company, Bezos recently increased his sales of Amazon shares, taking in more than $ 10 billion in 2020.