On April 14 Blue Origin conducted its 15th test of the New Shepard suborbital tourist system. It differed from similar missions in that it was the first time it practiced operations involving the presence of people on board the spacecraft. Before takeoff the seats in the capsule were occupied for some time by the company’s employees. They tested the communication system and performed a simulation of the prelaunch procedure.
The fifteenth test of New Shepard. Source: Blue Origin
Shortly after people left New Shepard, the launch took place. The flight went smoothly. The BE-3 engine accelerated the rocket to its maximum speed of 3,596 km/h. After separation, the capsule reached an altitude of 105 km, overcoming the Carman line, adopted as the conventional boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. The rocket stage then made a successful soft landing with the engine. The capsule landed on parachutes. In total, its flight lasted 10 minutes and 10 seconds. It is worth noting that there was a mannequin and 25 thousand student cards on board.
In Blue Origin called the past test milestone on the road to future manned flights and promised their imminent start. True, the company traditionally did not name specific dates. It is also unknown whether Blue Origin plans to conduct a new unmanned test system, or during the next flight will be on board the people.