If you didn't hear that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' secretive rocket company Blue Origin tested a rocket yesterday, you can be forgiven: unlike many launches, the first test flight of New Shepard wasn't streamed live. But the company has now released a video showing the successful launch from a base in Texas.
Blue Origin's goal is to create a cheap means of private space flight, and earlier this month, the company's president announced that it was prepared for test flights of its New Shepard rocket this year. "The engine is ready for flight... and ready for other commercial users," company president Rob Meyerson said. He didn't offer a timetable, but it appears the craft was closer to launch than most expected.
"Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return," Bezos writes in a note about the launch on Blue Origin's site. There was at least one hitch, however: "Of course one of our goals is reusability, and unfortunately we didn’t get to recover the propulsion module because we lost pressure in our hydraulic system on descent," Bezos writes, adding that new versions of the propulsion module are already being made.
The New Shepard is a suborbital craft that will be able to fly 62 miles above land, but it won't be able to make a full orbit of the planet. Although the craft can hold three people, Blue Origin previously said the first launch will be uncrewed, and it will stay that way for a while: the company says it wants to complete about a dozen tests before sending people aboard.
Blue Origin also released a less polished tracking shot of the launch, which is available to watch below.