Blue Origin's New Shepard launches NASA experiments, aces rocket landing

By Mike Wall
January 24, 2019, 3:13:49 PM EST


Blue Origin's privately build New Shepard spacecraft has aced its biggest mission yet, and this time the spacecraft flew for NASA.

The reusable New Shepard launched into space today (Jan. 23) on its 10th-ever test flight, a brief uncrewed jaunt that carried at least eight NASA-sponsored research and technology payloads to suborbital space and back. The mission, which lasted 10 minutes and 15 seconds, reached an altitude of 66 miles (107 kilometers), Blue Origin officials said.

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Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft launches on its tenth mission from West Texas on Jan. 23, 2019 carrying experiments for NASA to suborbital space and back.Credit: Blue Origin

The mission began at 10:05 a.m. EST (1505 GMT), when the New Shepard rocket-capsule duo lifted off from Blue Origin's West Texas test site. The rocket soon came back down to Earth for a vertical touchdown, and the capsule followed suit with a parachute-aided landing on the dusty Texas plains.

"Absolutely spectacular flight!" Blue Origin's Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut and orbital sales, said in live commetnary as New Shepard landed successfully. "That, everybody, is a reusable rocket."

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