Blue Origin's New Shepard Launches NASA Experiments, Aces Rocket Landing | 1/23/2019 | Staff
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Blue Origin's privately build New Shepard spacecraft has aced its biggest mission yet, and this time the spacecraft flew for NASA.

The reusable New Shepard launched into space today (Jan. 23) on its 10th-ever test flight, a brief uncrewed jaunt that carried eight NASA-sponsored research and technology payloads to suborbital space and back. The mission, which lasted 10 minutes and 15 seconds, reached an altitude of 66 miles (107 kilometers), Blue Origin officials said.

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This was the fourth spaceflight for this particular New Shepard vehicle, which itself is the third such vehicle that Blue Origin has developed and flown over the years. The vehicle also performed suborbital test flights in December 2017, and in April and July of last year.

Blue Origin, led by's billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, aims to fly paying passengers aboard New Shepard, perhaps as early as this year. But the company has not yet begun selling tickets or announced how much it will cost to book a seat.

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Payload transportation is well underway, however, as today's flight showed. The eight experiments that had a brief encounter with the final frontier were a diverse lot, with some provided by NASA centers and others from universities sponsored by the agency.

One experiment, from the Carthage College Space Sciences Program and Kennedy Space Center, was designed to gauge fuel levels in microgravity using sound waves, for example; another by scientists at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab made...
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