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Jeff Bezos counts down to Blue Origin launch

Image: New Shepard preparations
Workers prepare Blue Origin’s rocket ship for a test flight. (Credit: Jeff Bezos via Twitter)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos says his Blue Origin rocket venture will put its New Shepard suborbital spaceship to its sternest test to date: a flight that involves a quick restart of the craft’s rocket engine just six seconds before projected impact.

If the restart doesn’t work on April 2, the third flight of the reusable New Shepard will end with a fiery splat.

The mere fact of Bezos’ announcement is almost as remarkable as the flight plan.

Previously, he might have said in advance that a flight would happen “very soon,” or the timing could have been figured out by checking the required notice from the Federal Aviation Administration. But the April 1 tweets represent the first time Bezos has publicly specified the date of a Blue Origin test flight in advance. (No fooling!)

Bezos is promising that there’ll be drone footage of the test. And two research experiments will be packed aboard for the trip to outer space. That marks another first for Blue Origin’s suborbital space effort.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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