The launch is scheduled for 11:00 am EDT on July 18, 2018.
Blue Origin is about to perform a critical rocket test. For the first time, Jeff Bezos’ rocket company will send its New Shepard rocket to its red line at the edge of space and then fire the escape motor on the capsule that will carry passengers. If this test goes well, Blue Origin’s New Shepard program could become operational as early as this year.
This is the ninth mission for the New Shepard program and the third time this reusable rocket was used.
About 20 seconds (and 100 feet) after the New Shepard booster and the crew capsule separates, the motor on the capsule will fire with 70K foot pounds of thrust, sending the capsule 50,000 km higher than it has gone before. After the motor fires, parachutes will hopefully deploy, allowing the capsule to return safely to solid ground. Separately, the booster will hopefully return to Earth and land so it can be reused again.
Inside the capsule is a crash dummy loaded with instruments to measure the forces of the rocket launch. Bezos dubbed the dummy “Mannequin Skywalker” because even the richest man in modern history is a nerd. Mannequin Skywalker will experience around 3Gs during the launch, a Blue Origin representative said.