At 1717 GMT on 14 January, Blue Origin conducted a test flight from their Van Horn, Texas, facility. The subject was a re-engined version of the New Shepard vertically-launched, suborbital, spaceflight system. Additionally the mission was also evaluating a new capsule design. The new version of the booster uses the BE-3PM improved liquid hydrogen/liquid Oxygen (LOx) rocket engine. As well as this, the 14th test flight of New Shepard also flew a human-ready version of the crew capsule.
The capsule was unmanned – save for an instrumented dummy astronaut dubbed “Mannequin Skywalker”. Having reached an altitude of 106.9 km – beyond the traditional 100 km Karman limit for “spaceflight” – the rocket descended to make a landing on its pad 7 minutes 23 seconds after lift off. The landing was a success, albeit that it had to make a last second swaying adjustment before touching down onto the pad. A few minutes after that – at T+ 10 minutes 10 seconds – following its slower parachute descent, new crew capsule dubbed “RSS First Step” made a successful landing. Blue Origin hopes to operate crewed flights “in a few months”.