Private spaceflight company Blue Origin, helmed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is partnering with NASA to help transport new technologies to the edge of space. These payloads will fly on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket, a reusable vehicle designed to travel up to 62 miles above the Earth's surface.
The partnership is part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program
The partnership is part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program. It's an initiative in which NASA helps find ways for emerging space technologies — developed by companies, the government, or academia — to undergo flight testing. That involves finding commercial vehicles that can transport such technologies to space to see if they work as expected. Blue Origin joins five other companies part of the program that offer ways to transport technologies to high altitudes, including space tourism ventures Virgin Galactic and World View Enterprises. The companies will compete with one another for opportunities to take up these payloads above Earth.
Blue Origin's New Shepard is primarily designed to transport paying customers to sub-orbital space, where they can experience a few minutes of weightlessness. After reaching its peak altitude, the rocket is designed to fall back to Earth and land upright on solid ground. So far, the company has successfully launched and landed the same New Shepard vehicle three times.