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Blue Origin New Shepard Project

The Blue Origin project is developing a manned rocket called the New Shepard for purposes of space tourism. Blue Origin is owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, who is also the founder of Amazon.com.

The New Shepard is being developed as a commercially viable, suborbital and reusable launch aircraft and is being assembled in Seattle, Washington. Testing of the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket, however, is taking place near Van Horn, Texas.

Blue Origin New Shepard

The New Shepard has been designed for both vertical take-offs and landings. Nine engines arranged in a 3 X 3 grid propel the rocket and four landing legs with shock absorbers help ease the aircraft back down to earth.

Powered by 90-percent hydrogen peroxide and 10-percent kerosene, the Blue Origin New Shepard is one of the new breed of environmentally friendly rockets exuding minimal harmful emissions. The name, New Shepard is in reference to the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard.

The New Shepard rocket can land by either using its main rockets a few seconds before landing or by parachute. The first prototype rocket to launch was named Goddard, which was sent up in a test flight on November 13, 2006 and flew to a maximum altitude of 285 feet with a straight up and down flight path.

The goal of Blue Origin is to blast three passengers and one crewmember into suborbital space by 2010 and to do it cost effectively. The New Shepard spacecrafts are designed after NASA's DC-X, which the government agency hoped would one day take astronauts into space. But because a hard landing cracked the structure of the DC-X, the project was scrapped in the mid 1990's.

The Blue Origin website has some interesting video worth checking out of the Goddard test flight in November 2006. The video includes several different angles of the take off and landing.

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