Amazon boss Jeff Bezos successfully tests new Blue Origin astronaut capsule

Federico Mansilla
Diciembre 15, 2017

Aside from educational and research payloads, it had a passenger: an instrumented test dummy named "Mannequin Skywalker".

On Dec. 12, Blue Origin held a test flight for its New Shepard system, which reached for the skies with the new Crew Capsule 2.0.

Blue Origin successfully launched the New Shepard equipped with the Crew Capsule 2.0 into the sky, near the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and outer space. The rocket is created to be reusable, so after releasing the payload, it heads back down to Earth and lands vertically, much like the Falcon 9's first stage. A massive new rocket, called New Glenn, will be capable to taking payloads - such as satellites or spacecrafts - into orbit.

Blue Origin was founded almost two decades ago, and so far it's only conducted unmanned test flights, the first of which occurred in 2015.

The capsule offers 530 cubic feet (15 cubic metres) of space - large enough for passengers to float freely and turn weightless somersaults.

'Today's flight of New Shepard was a tremendous success, ' Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said. It'll do that with the help of the new Crew Capsule. Known as Mission 7 (M7), the mission featured the next-generation booster and the first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0. In the past, tests of previous units had only painted windows. He had a great ride'.

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Mannequin Skywalker rode aboard New Shepard, a prototype rocket being developed by Blue Origin.

Test flights with crew members aboard are expected to begin next year. It boasts 42.7-inch-tall windows, which the company says are the "largest windows in space".

Minimising distortion and reflection, the windows transmit 92 per cent of visible light giving them visibility "as good as glass", according to Blue Origin.

The system consists of a pressurized capsule atop a booster.

The two vehicles launch together, accelerating for approximately two and a half minutes, before the engine cuts off. After a few minutes of free fall, the booster performs an autonomously controlled rocket-powered vertical landing, while the capsule lands softly under parachutes, both ready to be used again.

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