On Monday the company Blue Origin, owned by Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos, flew an un-crewed New Shepard reusable rocket to 105 kilometers (62.5 miles) altitude. The system returned to the ground to be prepared for another flight in a few weeks. Here is a video of the flight, which took place at Blue’s facility in West Texas:

The booster rocket and the crew capsule of the New Shepard separate at high altitude and come down separately. The booster lands via the power of its liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine while the crew capsule comes down via parachutes.

There was no camera view of the separation so they inserted an animation of it into the video. Here is a schematic of the phases of the flight:

trajectory_white[1]

Blue plans an intensive test program for the New Shepard that will lead to commercial flights for science and technology R&D flights by next summer. Passenger space tourism flights will start in a couple of years.

Jeff Bezos comments on the project in this video:

The New Shepard is just for suborbital (100 km altitude) but it will be very similar to the upper stage of Blue’s two stage orbital rocket that is expected to fly in about 4 years from now.

orbital-spaceflight[1]Artist’s rendition of Blue Origin’s two stage orbital rocket design.