Blue Origin Successfully Tests Upgraded Capsule Built for Crewed Flights

The company will make space tourism a reality with new capsule that can currently accommodate 6 people by April.
Fabienne Lang
Blue Origin's new Shepard capsuleBlue Origin

Blue Origin flew an upgraded model of its New Shepard capsule on Thursday, which is set to carry humans into space. 

Part of the company's NS-14 mission, the New Shepard booster and its crewed capsule launched from Blue Origin's West Texas test site at 12:17 PM EST.

The successful separation of the crewed capsule from the booster took place about two and a half minutes after liftoff, using its parachutes to land safely back to Earth 10 minutes and 15 seconds after liftoff. 

The booster landed back down on the edge of its landing pad.


Blue Origin's New Shepard booster was powered by a hydrogen-fueled BE-3 engine, and reached an altitude of 350,858 feet (106 km) — in other words, above the internationally recognized boundary of space.

This test flight marked the "15th consecutive successful crew capsule landing," as Blue Origin said in its statement. For the New Shepard rocket and capsule, however, this was its 14th flight into sub orbit, and yesterday's mission debuted the company's new crewed capsule.

The new capsule, named RSS First Step, included upgrades such as: 

  • Speakers in the cabin with a microphone and a push-to-talk button at each seat so astronauts can continuously talk to Mission Control. 
  • The first flight of the crew alert system with a panel at each seat relaying important safety messages to passengers. 
  • Cushioned wall linings and sound suppression devices to reduce ambient noise inside the capsule.  
  • Environmental systems, including a cooling system and humidity controls to regulate temperature and prevent capsule windows from fogging during flight, as well as carbon dioxide scrubbing. 
  • Six seats. 

No set date has been shared about when we can expect Blue Origin to launch humans into space aboard its new rocket and capsule, but the vessel launched on Thursday will be the same one that will ultimately launch and land humans into space and back.