Blue Origin reaches space again on latest New Shepard test flight

New Shepard to conduct science mission ahead of upcoming passenger flights

It has sent multiple rockets skyward from its launch pads near Van Horn, Texas. The New Shepard capsule is created to carry a half-dozen space tourists, researchers and/or experiments out of the discernible atmosphere for brief visits to the lower fringes of space.

This particular booster, NS-3 (New Shepard-3), flew for the first time on 12 December 2017, marking the system's first flight under FAA launch license regulations. It can also be used as payload vehicle carrying equipment for scientific experiments to and from space.

A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket blasts off from west Texas early Thursday, May 2, 2019, kicking off the 11th test flight of the reusable sub-orbital rocket. Numerous payloads were not only from industry but also from students, including an experiment from a group of high school students from Huntsville, Alabama.

For safety, the New Shepard capsule is equipped with "full envelope" abort capability, meaning its built-in escape thrusters can quickly push the capsule away from a malfunctioning booster during all phases of flight.

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Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, today sent dozens of science experiments and other payloads to space and back on its suborbital New Shepard rocket ship. If that tempo continues, and if Blue Origin truly intends to begin crewed flights by the end of the year, there can't be many more uncrewed practice runs left on the test schedule.

Those studies are just the latest NASA experiments to fly on the Blue Origin New Shepard. If the capsule had been filled with space tourists, this would have been the time where they would have experienced zero gravity.

Additionally, the device will demonstrate its ability to collect blood in microgravity and store that blood prior to its eventual transfusion - both potentially life-saving procedures as humanity expands beyond Earth.

According to the experiment's Objective listed on NASA's Flight Opportunities Program's page, "In order to fully understand the effects of microgravity on cell function, researchers need the ability to monitor subcellular processes in real-time to identify, characterize and quantify the transient, yet significant cellular responses to microgravity". This project is in collaboration with MIT Media Lab Space Exploration.

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