Jeff Bezos’ private spaceflight company Blue Origin has announced that the next launch of its New Shepard rocket will take place on October 5th at 10:45AM ET. The company will live stream the event on its website.
This particular launch is meant to test out the “crew escape” system. New Shepard has two main parts: the rocket booster, and a crew capsule on top. Blue Origin hopes to someday send paying customers to space using that capsule, offering a few minutes of weightlessness before returning them to Earth. That means the company has to be ready in case something bad happens to the rocket during the launch.
About 45 seconds into the test, Blue Origin will activate a small rocket engine on the underside of the capsule, which will push the spaceship up and away from the booster. The capsule will then use parachutes to lower itself safely to the ground. While Blue Origin has landed this particular booster four times post-launch, Bezos said he expects the escape test could damage the rocket. If the rocket somehow manages to land, Bezos says he’ll “retire it” and put it in a museum. (We have a lot more detail on the test here.)
All told, it should be a very exciting test to watch in real time. This will be the fifth flight of New Shepard, but only the second time Blue Origin has streamed a rocket launch in real time. The typically secretive company performed its first few rocket launches out of the public eye and instead published videos after the tests were done.
Update October 3rd, 3:26PM ET: Blue Origin has pushed the launch from October 4th to October 5th due to weather. This post has been updated to reflect that.