Blue Origin's New Shepard Spacecraft Launches Biggest Mission Yet, Sticks Landing

New Shepard landing

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket is named for Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

As the capsule free falls back into the lower atmosphere, the passengers will experience about four to five times the normal pull of gravity during the initial stages of the plunge back to Earth.

A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket lands in Texas on Thursday.

A future iteration of this rocket will be used to carry humans to the Moon and Mars, and it will also form the basis for the next Blue Origin rocket, the New Glenn. Numerous payloads were not only from industry but also from students, including an experiment from a group of high school students from Huntsville, Alabama. Successful test flights are a big step toward that eventual goal but it's important to note that not a single person has ever ridden on one, and the safety of passengers is obviously a top priority.

MIT also had several payloads on board that are both scientific and artistic. "It's a fully reusable rocket, which means the entire system is recovered after each flight and then flown again".


New Shepard hardware is produced at Blue Origin's headquarters in Kent, Wash., and shipped down to Texas for flight. But whenever the first space tourists fly, they'll enjoy a remarkable view.

Orbital Medicine - Orbital Medicine, a small business focused on aerospace medicine, comes to us through funding from NASA's Flight Opportunities Program.

In the cargo hold of the New Shepard sit, among others, two projects that use zero gravity as a medium for works of art developed by the MIT Media Lab, an experiment to test temperature fluctuations in microgravity devised by students from Huntsville, Alabama, and even an experimental technology created to treat a collapsed lung in zero-G, the brainchild of Orbital Medicine. This biomedical experiment seeks to allow scientist's the ability to observe cell responses to microgravity and spaceflight exposure in real-time, something that is not presently able to occur aboard the International Space Station. "Our payload is a self-contained experiment (4.0" x 4.0" x 7.0", 1.1lbm) housing growth media and electronics powering this growth over the microgravity window", Sareen said while revealing about his project.

Joining these two biomedical experiments is NASA's Johnson Space Center-led Suborbital Flight Experiment Monitor-2, a package that will help evaluate variable G-force conditions on various life support system components. This project is in collaboration with MIT Media Lab Space Exploration.

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