Blue Origin sends suborbital rocket to new heights

New Shepard launch
Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship, dubbed RSS H.G. Wells, blasts off from its West Texas launch pad. (Blue Origin via YouTube)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture notched another record today when it sent its New Shepard suborbital spaceship on its highest-ever round trip to space.

It was the eighth uncrewed test flight for the New Shepard program, and the second go-around for this particular spaceship, which is dubbed RSS H.G. Wells in honor of the English science-fiction writer and futurist.

RSS H.G. Wells flew for first time last December, and was refurbished in line with Blue Origin’s strategy for rocket reusability. On that flight, the craft rose to a height of 99.39 kilometers, just shy of the 100-kilometer Karman Line that defines the internationally accepted boundary of outer space.

The target altitude for this flight was a record-setting 106.7 kilometers, or 350,000 feet. After today’s picture-perfect launch and landing, Bezos reported in a tweet that the craft reached 351,000 feet (107 kilometers).

“That’s the altitude we’ve been targeting for operations,” he said. “One step closer.”

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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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