Blue Origin sends six civilians into space with fourth crewed launch

Van Horn, Texas - Six space tourists headed into low-Earth orbit for a brief adventure on Thursday in the fourth crewed flight for Jeff Bezos' company, Blue Origin.

The space tourists examine their ride before launch with Blue Origin.
The space tourists examine their ride before launch with Blue Origin.  © Blue Origin

After a brief hold on the launch pad, all systems were "go", the gantry retracted, and Blue Origin's New Shepard lifted off on a plume of fire above the western Texan desert.

The rocket lifted off with a crew of six civilians and successfully completing a flight of 10:03 minutes.

After blasting upwards for two minutes and 20 seconds, the main engine shut off, and less than a minute later, the crew capsule detached from the engine module, giving the crew the chance to hang out in zero gravity.

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They even passed the famous Kármán line, which marks the edge of space at 62 miles above the Earth.

The engine module descended with air brakes deployed, and reignited its engine after slowing down with a sonic boom, touching down safely on its landing pad.

The crew capsule first deployed little mini-parachutes called drogue chutes to slow down enough to let the three main parachutes deploy, slowing down enough to plop down in a cloud of Texas desert dust.

Blue Origin originally planned the launch to take place on March 29, but heavy winds forecast for the launch and recovery window made mission control shift the flight to the 31st.

On March 30, Blue Origin confirmed that the flight was a go.

The passengers who enjoyed a brief stint of weightlessness were Marty Allen, Sharon and Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, Gary Lai, and Dr. George Nield – all CEOs and high-rolling entrepreneurs. Lai replaced Pete Davidson, who couldn't make the rescheduled flight.

Space tourism is taking off, but is still under fire for catering only to the super-rich, with no concern for its potential climate impact.

Cover photo: Blue Origin

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