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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Space Company Just Tested its First Rocket

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Blue Origin, the private space company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, test-launched its New Shepard vehicle for the first time ever on Wednesday, it was revealed Thursday morning.

The sub-orbital spacecraft reached an altitude of 58 miles above the Earth before the unmanned capsule separated from the booster rocket and returned to Earth with the help of a parachute.

Blue Origin’s goal is to for the spacecraft’s booster system to land vertically after launches so it can be easily reused, but the company wasn’t able to recover the booster Wednesday because of a problem with a hydraulic system.

More from Blue Origin on the launch:

Today we flew the first developmental test flight of our New Shepard space vehicle. Our 110,000-lbf thrust liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen BE-3 engine worked flawlessly, powering New Shepard through Mach 3 to its planned test altitude of 307,000 feet. Guidance, navigation and control was nominal throughout max Q and all of ascent. The in-space separation of the crew capsule from the propulsion module was perfect. Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return.

Unlike some private space companies focused on delivering astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station — like the Elon Musk-owned SpaceX — Blue Origin’s primary goal is to open space travel to human tourists. However, the company is also working with United Launch Alliance, a joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture, to produce the engines for a rocket to replace the Atlas V, which uses Russian-made engines.

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