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Jeff Bezos live-tweets Blue Origin spaceship test

Image: New Shepard landing
Blue Origin’s New Shepard fires its BE-4 rocket engine for a vertical landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos served as launch commentator for a risky but successful third flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ship to space and back on April 2. He even worked in a reference to his lucky cowboy boots.

The 11-minute-long suborbital mission not only featured the first ride for university research payloads, but also a quick restart of the propulsion module’s hydrogen-fueled BE-3 rocket engine, just seconds before what would have been a crash.

That maneuver was aimed at “pushing the envelope” for the uncrewed New Shepard’s performance, Bezos said on the eve of the flight. Blue Origin reported that the restart was executed successfully at an altitude of 3,635 feet, as planned.

The running commentary on Twitter marked yet another role for the 52-year-old Bezos, who founded Blue Origin back in 2000 to follow through on his childhood dream of spaceflight. New Shepard is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, who became the first American in outer space three years before Bezos was born.

Bezos traced the preparation of the crew capsule (CC) for launch from Blue Origin’s test facility in West Texas, then the liftoff, then the status of the propulsion booster and crew capsule after the two parts of the spacecraft separated on cue.

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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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