Kent-based Blue Origin’s New Shepard flew for the ninth time on Wednesday, going up in space from the company’s Texas launch site.
During this mission, known as Mission 9 (M9), the escape motor was fired shortly after booster separation, according to a Blue Origin email. The Crew Capsule was pushed hard by the escape test and company staff stressed the rocket to test that astronauts can get away from an anomaly at any time during flight.
Blue Origin called the mission a success for both the booster and capsule. Most importantly, astronauts would have had an exhilarating ride and safe landing.
This isn’t the first time the company has done this type of extreme testing on New Shepard. In October 2012, it simulated a booster failure on the launch pad and had a successful escape. Then in October 2016, Blue Origin simulated a booster failure in-flight at Max Q, which is the most physically strenuous point in the flight for the rocket, and had a completely successful escape of the capsule.
This test on M9 allowed the company to finally characterize escape motor performance in the near-vacuum of space and guarantee that it can safely return astronauts in any phase of flight.
Also on M9, New Shepard carried science and research payloads from commercial companies, universities and space agencies.
Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, plans to someday carry people into space.