New Shepard/Courtesy file photo, Blue Origin

New Shepard/Courtesy file photo, Blue Origin

Blue Origin mission New Shepard-14 successfully demonstrates crew capsule upgrades

Kent-based company launches rocket in West Texas

Kent-based Blue Origin successfully completed its 14th mission to space and back on Thursday, Jan. 14 for the New Shepard program from its West Texas launch site.

Mission NS-14 featured a crew capsule outfitted with astronaut experience upgrades for upcoming flights with passengers onboard, according to Blue Origin.

“The success of this flight puts us one really big step closer to flying astronauts,” said Blue Origin’s Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut and orbital sales, during a live webcast.

Blue Origin plans to eventually offer space travel to customers.

Capsule upgrades included:

• Speakers in the cabin with a microphone and a push-to-talk button at each seat so astronauts can continuously talk to Mission Control.

• First flight of the crew alert system with a panel at each seat relaying important safety messages to passengers.

• Cushioned wall linings and sound suppression devices to reduce ambient noise inside the capsule.

• Environmental systems, including a cooling system and humidity controls to regulate temperature and prevent capsule windows from fogging during flight, as well as carbon dioxide scrubbing.

• Six seats, including one occupied by Mannequin Skywalker.

This flight continued to prove the robustness and stability of the New Shepard system and the BE-3PM liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.

Also onboard were more than 50,000 postcards from Blue Origin’s nonprofit Club for the Future. The club has now flown over 100,000 postcards to space and back from students around the world.

Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, opened in Kent in 2000. The company opened a new headquarters in January 2020 along 76th Avenue South.

Key mission stats

• 15th consecutive successful crew capsule landing (every flight in program, including pad escape test in 2012).

• The crew capsule reached an apogee of 347,568 ft above ground level (AGL) / 351,215 ft mean sea level (MSL).

• The booster reached an apogee of 347,211 ft AGL / 350,858 ft MSL.

• The mission elapsed time was 10 minutes, 10 seconds and the max ascent velocity was 2,242 mph / 3,609 km/h.

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