The seventh successful launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable suborbital spacecraft. (Image credit: Blue Origin)


The Skywalker’s have always been a family of many talents- young Anakin became a notable Sith Lord, his son Luke became a Jedi Knight, his daughter lead a great Rebellion/not-so-great Resistance, and distant cousin Mannequin made it through a successful test flight aboard a reusable suborbital spacecraft. “Always two there are; no more, no less-” While Yoda meant those words for describing  A Sith Master and an apprentice, the same is also true for Blue Origin’s New Shepard 3 (NS3) suborbital spacecraft, which features a reusable rocket booster and crew capsule.


The private space company recently successfully launched and landed their newest upgraded rocket and crew capsule at their test facility in West Texas. Blue Origin updated their Crew Capsule (now in version 2.0) with large windows, new modular paneling (for easy access to internals), more robust heat shielding and sensors, making it a more exciting ride for space tourists. To test how comfortable a ride it will be, Origin strapped-in Mannequin Skywalker, a test dummy outfitted with shock sensors to gauge the impact force when landing, which Jeff Bezos (founder of Blue Origin/Amazon) tweeted as “having a great ride.”


The seventh flight saw the rocket push the Crew Capsule to an altitude of 326,075 feet, just short of the Karman Line- the internationally recognized boundary for space, which is roughly 62-miles up. The New Shepard booster then landed itself vertically back to the Launchpad while the capsule landed safely via a parachute system, hitting the ground at just 1-mile per hour. It was also the first time Blue Origin deployed their landing pad robot Blue2D2 (outfitted with cameras and sensors) to examine the booster after touchdown.


Blue Origin’s Blue2D2 inspecting the New Shepard booster after landing. (Image credit: Blue Origin via Twitter)


After all unmanned test flights are completed, Blue Origin hopes to test fly their New Shepard platform with astronauts sometime early next year and if everything goes according to plan, six private citizens will get a taste of what a low-earth ride feels like sometime after (at a speculative  ticket cost ranging from $150K to $250K).    


See my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi after this link.


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