Jeff Bezos’ rocket company launches first test of its tourism spaceship in a year

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It marked the 13th test flight of New Shepard, as the vehicle is called, but it still has yet to fly with humans on board. Blue Origin wants to eventually send paying customers on brief joy rides to the edge of space, but the company has not started selling tickets, nor has it announced a price. So far, the vehicle has only carried science experiments and, at one point, a test dummy nicknamed Mannequin Skywalker.During a webcast of the test flight Tuesday, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said only that the company is “very close” to being ready to fly humans.New Shepard consists of two pieces — a small, dome-shaped capsule with gaping rectangular windows, and a 60-foot-tall rocket booster that blasts the capsule up to three times the speed of sound as it hurtles toward outer space. The capsule is designed to detach from the rocket near the top of its flight path, climbing more than 60 miles high and spending a few minutes suspended in weightlessness before parachuting back to Earth. New Shepard flew multiple experiments for NASA during its Tuesday test launch, including a sensor mounted to the rocket booster’s exterior that was designed to study how …

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