Blue Origin carried out on Wednesday (14) another test of the New Shepard rocket, which was launched and managed to land at the base of Van Horn, in Texas (United States), with success. This time, Jeff Bezos’ company also tested the astronaut transport capsule, attached to the top of the reusable launcher.
As with the other 14 previous launches, the NS-15 mission also had no crew on board. But the take-off preparation exercise, carried out by the American company with substitute astronauts, may be an indication that the first flight with passengers is close to happening.
After the “false astronauts” disembarked, the engines were started and the New Shepard took off (see video below), reaching more than 100 km above the Earth’s surface. At this point, the capsule was released, while the rocket started its journey back to the ground, landing safely in an area very close to the launch pad, when driving the BE-3 engine.
The capsule, which carried a doll known as “Mannequin Skywalker”, floated on the edge of space for about three minutes, when it started its return to Earth. The landing at the Texas base took place smoothly, according to Blue Origin, after the triggering of three parachutes.
For this most recent test, the aerospace company added some updates to the previous flight, which took place in January. In the NS-14 mission, small screens and push-to-talk buttons for each of the six seats in the capsule were the novelties.
In the NS-15, the device for the transportation of passengers gained microphones and speakers for the tests of the communication systems with the astronauts and safety alert systems, in addition to controls to regulate the temperature and the acoustics of the ship.
As with pre-launch training, these changes indicate advances in relation to the long-awaited manned flight from Blue Origin, which may already happen on the NS-16 mission, according to CNBC.