Blue Origin, the space company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, completed its third successful crewed flight.
The flight marked the first time the New Shepard rocket capsule has operated at full capacity.
Onboard were six passengers, including Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of the space pioneer Alan Shepard after whom the rocket is named.
“It’s kind of fun for me to say an original Shepard will fly on the New Shepard,” Churchley said in a video announcing the flight. “I’m really excited to be going on a Blue Origin flight.”
On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard performed a 15-minute space flight, 23 days after the historic flight of the Soviet Yuri Gagarin, who was the first human in space. 10 years later, Shepard would become the fifth person to set foot on the Moon.
The goal of Blue Origin is to make space more accessible by developing reusable space launchers.
The rocket takes off vertically and reaches a speed of greater than Mach 3 before it reaches the separation point, approximately 75 kilometers (46 miles) above sea level.
There, the capsule is released as it passes the Kármán line, which separates the Earth’s atmosphere from space, 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the surface of the planet. At this point, passengers can stand up from their seats and float for a few moments in zero gravity where they can admire the curvature of the Earth through observation windows.
The New Shepard rocket descends back on its own, assisted by retro-rockets to decelerate. The capsule follows, descending at a slower pace thanks to the help of parachutes.