Blue Origin, the space exploration venture founded by Jeff Bezos, achieved a successful rocket launch on Tuesday, marking its first flight since a crash in September 2022. The New Shepard rocket, taking off from West Texas, carried a capsule loaded with experiments, including those that were part of the failed 2022 launch. The unmanned capsule experienced a few minutes of weightlessness at the fringes of space before safely parachuting back to the desert. The rocket, which reached an altitude of 66 miles (107 kilometers) during the 10-minute flight, landed successfully.
Last year’s mishap occurred when the rocket deviated off course shortly after liftoff due to an overheated rocket engine nozzle. The escape system activated, launching the capsule to safety while the rocket crashed. Blue Origin addressed the issue with design changes to the nozzles and combustion chambers.
This successful mission comes after almost two decades of launches from the remote area southeast of El Paso. Blue Origin began conducting experiments for NASA in 2019 and introduced its first passengers, including Jeff Bezos and his brother, in 2021. The company’s sixth launch with 31 passengers overall included both research missions and brief suborbital flights.
Erika Wagner, the launch commentator, expressed confidence in future crewed flights, stating, “Following a thorough review of today’s mission, we look forward to flying our next crewed flight soon.”
While Blue Origin’s New Shepard has seen success with suborbital flights, the New Glenn rocket, designed for orbital missions, has yet to make its debut. The company aims for a launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, next year, named after John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. Meanwhile, the New Shepard is named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space.