Blue Origin's New Shepard flies passengers to space and back
Blue Origin has nailed the first human flight of New Shepard, taking company founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old Mary Wallace "Wally" Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen on a brief jaunt to space.
Following a bunch of unmanned test flights, the first passenger-carrying flight to the edge of space was announced for July 20 – 52 years after the Apollo 11 moon landing. The Bezos brothers were confirmed as taking the first two seats on June 7, the auctioned third place eventually went to the son of Somerset Capital Partners CEO, and the final seat was filled by one of the "Mercury 13" from the 1960s Woman in Space program.
The crew of New Shepard were ferried to the launch tower at the Van Horn site in Texas at around 7:20 am local time, climbed the tower, entered the capsule and had buckled themselves into their seats by 20 minutes or so later. At 8:12 am, liftoff was confirmed and the historic ride to space began.
A few minutes later, the capsule separated from the booster, and by 8:16 am mission control confirmed that "the capsule has just reached apogee" and the now unbuckled passengers enjoyed weightlessness at the edge of space. The crew capsule reached 347,563 ft AGL (above ground level)/351,210 ft MSL (mean sea level) – that's 65.8 miles/105.9 km AGL and 66.5 miles/107 km MSL. Meanwhile the booster managed 347,188 ft AGL/350,835 ft MSL. Maximum ascent velocity is reported to have been 2,233 mph (3,595 km/h).
The booster, which had already been used on two previous test flights, touched down at 8:19 am. Three chutes were deployed from the capsule as it began its descent, landing in the West Texas desert three minutes later for a total elapsed mission time of 10 minutes and 10 seconds. The crew exited shortly after, safe and well.
As well as snagging records for taking the youngest and oldest people into space, New Shepard also managed to fly higher than Sir Richard Branson's effort on VSS Unity on July 11.
Source: Blue Origin