Something went wrong during today’s test flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship, and the world was able to watch how it was handled online.
Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture intentionally disabled one of the three parachutes on the New Shepard capsule, and also introduced some added challenges for the vertical landing of the rocket-powered booster stage after separation. It’s all part of Bezos’ plan to test the safety systems thoroughly before putting people aboard.
Liftoff took place at 7:35 a.m. PT (9:35 a.m. CT) from Blue Origin’s Texas launch complex. “Beautiful launch of our New Shepard rocket here from West Texas,” launch commentator Ariane Cornell said during Blue Origin’s live video coverage. The video stream was provided via BlueOrigin.com and YouTube. At its peak, more than 15,000 viewers were tuning in.
The test flight lasted about 10 minutes, sending the capsule to an altitude of 331,501 feet (62.8 miles, or 101 kilometers), Cornell said. The capsule separated from the booster as planned. Then the booster made a successful landing, and the two-parachute system brought the capsule down safely, just as hoped.