A test rocket for tourists has successfully been launched into space.
Today's particular science mission, as all New Shepard flights have, will launch from the company's West Texas facility, which is located approximately 30 miles north of the city of Van Horn, Texas.
"Telepresent Drawings in Space uses graphite to create a drawing that could only have been made in space", reads a statement from Blue Origin.
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"A handsome, attractive launch of the booster and capsule today". But the company, which has kept much of its development progress under wraps, has not started selling tickets, nor has it announced a price point. The engine shut down as planned and the New Shepard capsule atop the rocket then was released to continue coasting upward on its own. Equipped with huge windows for the paying customers it will one day carry, the capsule fell back into the thick lower atmosphere, deployed three huge parachutes and settled to a low-speed touchdown near the Blue Origin launch pad. Reusability is a key part of Blue Origin's plan to turn space tourism into a business.
Branson, the billionaire businessman, has said that he wants to begin flying passengers in mid-2019.
In December 2018, Virgin Galactic, also a private spaceflight company, lifted off its SpaceShipTwo vehicle to reach the edge of space.
Joining these two biomedical experiments is NASA's Johnson Space Center-led Suborbital Flight Experiment Monitor-2, a package that will help evaluate variable G-force conditions on various life support system components. According to Blue Origin, "The Space Exploration Initiative is built on the spirit of the MIT Media Lab, uniting artists, engineers, scientists, and designers". It was the fifth landing for this booster and 11th mission overall for Blue Origin. The company is quietly working on a few other projects, including a giant rocket called New Glenn that will be able to send hefty satellites and other payloads into orbit. Bezos will host a Blue Origin press event in Washington D.C. on May 9. The space company has previously said it plan to complete a lunar landing by 2024.