Technology & Science

Blue Origin launches capsule to space with 'dummy' Mannequin Skywalker

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company launched a new capsule into space Thursday to test all the astronaut perks before people strap in.

Flight lasted 10 minutes and reached 106 kilometres

In this image from video made available by Blue Origin, the company's RSS First Step capsule uses parachutes for landing after a test flight in west Texas on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Blue Origin via The Associated Press)

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company launched a new capsule into space Thursday to test all the astronaut perks before people strap in.

Thursday's flight with a dummy named Mannequin Skywalker lasted 10 minutes and reached 106 kilometres above west Texas. Both the New Shepard rocket and the capsule landed successfully.

It was the 14th flight to the fringes of space for a New Shepard rocket. The first was in 2015.

"The success of this flight puts us one really big step closer to flying astronauts," launch commentator Ariane Cornell said from company headquarters in Kent, Washington. "There's going to be a lot of fun ahead in 2021."

Blue Origin plans to launch paying passengers — tourists, scientists and professional astronauts — on brief hops over west Texas' remote desert. It's also working on a bigger rocket, New Glenn, that would blast off from Cape Canaveral as well as a lunar lander for astronauts under NASA's Artemis moon program.

The capsule soaring Thursday featured the latest crew upgrades: microphones and push-to-talk buttons for the six seats, wall panels to muffle engine noise, a safety-alert system, and temperature and humidity controls to keep passengers comfortable and the big windows free of fog.

The launch and landing team was scaled back because of the pandemic.

New Shepard is named for the first American in space, Alan Shepard. New Glenn honours John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now