Blue Origin, the space travel company of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos announced recently, it's "getting really close" to flying humans after it successfully completed its 14th mission into space on January 14. Specifically, the space travel company said it is planning "to take six people on a sub-orbit flight."
The Guardian reports, the rocket, New Shepard "blasted off at 1717 GMT" from the private launch site of the company in west Texas, that carried an "upgraded crew capsule containing test dummy" which the company calls, "Mannequin Skywalker," as seen on the Blue Origin video below via the Waspie_Dwarf YouTube Channel.
After it separated from the booster, the crew capsule reached a 66-mile altitude above mean sea level, positioning it about 4.3 miles above the Karman line, the official boundary between the atmosphere of Earth and outer space.
The New Shepard program is designed to carry six space tourists onboard a sub-orbital flight where they get to experience roughly "three minutes of weightlessness."
Total Flight Time
The total amount of flight time for this specific test was roughly 10 minutes and 10 seconds. During that time, the capsule was able to rotate at about two to three degrees per second, so that passengers later on, can experience a 360-degree view while they are in flight.
When it returned to Earth, the booster made a regulated touch down on its landing pad. The crew capsule, on the other hand, used retro thrusters and parachutes.
Following the successful flight, Ariane Cornell, the director of astronaut and orbital sales of Blue Origin said, they are indeed, "really close to flying humans.
January 14 Launch and Return of the New Shepard
Last week, SpaceWatch.Global reported Blue Origin "successfully launched and landed back its 14th New Shepard test vehicle," and had returned the capsule designed to carry humans to the edge of space.
According to the said report, Shew Shepard blasted off from the West Texas test site of Blue Origin on January 14, with its "RSS First Step passenger capsule on board."
Earlier on, in September 2020, it was also reported that this private aerospace firm would be launching its first space mission for 2020, referring to a suborbital mission that uses a reusable New Shepard rocket designed to test crucial parts of its HLS or human landing system. It would be used in 2024 during an Artemis flight.
NS-14, An Astronaut Experience Upgrade
For this mission called NS-14, the crew capsule would be equipped with astronaut experience upgrades as the program gets closer to human space flight.
Such upgrades would include enhancements to environmental features like acoustics and temperature control inside the capsule, "crew display panels, and speakers that have microphone and push-to-talk button for every seat."
In addition, this mission will test a number of communication and safety alert systems for astronauts, as well. The capsule will also be equipped with six seats, which include the one which Mannequin Skywalker occupied.
Then, inside the capsule, the nonprofit Club for the Future of Blue Origin will fly over 50,000 postcards "to space and back" from students all over the world.
Essentially, a selection of postcards is set to fly in pockets of Mannequin Skywalker. This is the third batch of the nonprofit postcards flown to space.
Check out more news and information on Blue Origin in Science Times.