Blue Origin has successfully completed their first test flight of 2018. The suborbital test was concluded on April 19 with the successful touchdown of the capsule and the rocket’s main booster.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) April 30, 2018
The New Shepard rocket was launched from the launch provider’s West Texas launch site at 17:06 GMT. The launch had initially been delayed for more than three hours as a result of thunderstorms overnight that had delayed launched preparations. Additional delays caused the launch countdown to be halted several times. Blue Origin is yet to release a statement on why the launch countdown was delayed.
During the test, the New Shepard launch vehicle reached an altitude of 107 kilometers (66 miles). This is a significant step towards the rocket’s first commercial flight as it’s the altitude the launch provider has targeted for operational use.
Although Blue Origin is yet to begin selling tickets aboard the New Shepard, the company are currently looking to fill an “Astronaut Experience Manager” position. According to the job posting on the provider’s website, “As the Astronaut Experience Manager you will work with a team that is creating a highly differentiated offering that culminates in the customer becoming an astronaut.”
This is the company’s first launch of 2018. The last New Shepard test flight launched on 12 December 2017 carried a number test payloads aboard the provider’s crew capsule. Included with the test payloads was a test dummy dubbed “Mannequin Skywalker”.
Image Credit: Blue Origin