Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket on Wednesday for the ninth time in what the company said was a successful flight.
New Shepard — named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard — launched vertically from the company's facility near Van Horn, Texas. Blue Origin, which was founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wants to offer tourists a ride to space, bringing passengers in a capsule up past 350,000 feet, where they would spend about 10 minutes floating in zero gravity before returning back to Earth.
The flight was "a high altitude escape motor test," which the company said would push New Shepard "to its limits" to make sure that astronauts can get away from the rocket if there is any problem during flight, also known as an abort test. Inside the capsule, which sits on top of the rocket, was Blue Origin's test dummy named "Mannequin Skywalker" – as well as payloads for gathering data from NASA, companies and universities.
The abort test happened in the vacuum of space and pushed the capsule to nearly 390,000 feet, according to preliminary data from the flight. "Mannequin Skywalker" experienced about 10 times the force of gravity during the abort test, as the capsule flung itself away from the rocket.