While Amazon sales skyrocketed on the first of two “Prime Days,” CEO Jeff Bezos and his space company Blue Origin launched a literal rocket. Their seventh New Shepard rocket is testing their new lunar-landing technology for NASA that could lead to astronauts to the moon once again.
The flight, which peaked at 66 miles (106 kilometers), skimmed the edge of outer space and lasted about 10 minutes. The booster landed safely back at the launch complex, followed by the capsule which landed with a parachute in Texas, and it will be retrieved.
The booster carried NASA navigational equipment for future moon landings, which monitored the booster’s decent and touchdown and will be re-used on another Blue Origin suborbital voyage.
The testing is all part of NASA’s Artemis program which is endeavoring to put the first woman, along with the next man, on the moon by 2024. The deadline follows a timeline laid out by the White House.
“Using New Shepard to simulate landing on the Moon is an exciting precursor to what the Artemis program will bring to America,” Blue Origin’s chief executive Bob Smith said in a statement.
Blue Origin is one of a team of companies chosen by NASA to increase the chances of getting astronauts to the moon and on the surface by the end of 2024.
In addition to the capsule’s usual cargo like scientific experiments, Blue Origin also sends up postcards written and mailed in by thousands of people, with their vision of why the Earth needs space. When they return to Earth, the postcards are stamped “Flown to Space,” and returned to the senders.
Blue Origin said they still need a couple more flights before launching people on the six-seat capsule. So far, there is no word on whether tickets for the space flights will be for sale on Amazon.