CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company launched a New Shepard rocket for a seventh time from a remote corner of Texas on Tuesday, testing new lunar-landing technology for NASA that could help put astronauts back on the moon.
The entire flight — barely skimming space with a peak altitude of 66 miles (106 kilometers) — lasted just 10 minutes. The booster landed vertically back at the launch complex after liftoff, and the capsule followed, parachuting onto the desert floor.
The capsule carried science experiments, including 1.2 million tomato seeds that will be distributed to schoolchildren around the U.S. and Canada, and tens of thousands of children’s postcards with space-themed drawings that will be returned to the young senders.
NASA’s navigation equipment for future moon landings was located on the booster. The sensors and computer — tested during the booster’s descent and touchdown — will hitch another
Blue Origin set a new mark for recycling rockets Tuesday morning by sending the same New Shepard spacecraft to the edge of space for the seventh time.
The spaceflight company founded and funded by Amazon head Jeff Bezos completed its 13th New Shepard mission from its private launch facility in west Texas while also testing some key equipment for future NASA missions to the moon.
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The mission was originally set for late September from the Texas site, but was delayed multiple times due to weather and technical issues. It finally left Earth at 6:37 a.m. PT (8:37 a.m. Texas time) Tuesday and returned to land at the same facility in two pieces just about 10 minutes later.
Blue Origin, the space company founded and funded by Amazon head Jeff Bezos, is planning to make its 13th trip to space on Thursday, using a New Shepard rocket that will be flying for the seventh time, which will set a record for rocket recycling.
The sixth landing of the same New Shepard booster.
Mission NS-13 will be carrying a dozen payload to the edge of space and back, including a lunar landing sensor demonstration that will test technologies for future moon missions as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
The sensor will be the first payload to ride mounted to the exterior of New Shepard rather than inside its capsule.
SpaceX, another commercial space outfit headed by a famous billionaire in the form of Elon Musk, has so far used