Jeff Bezos' rocket company, Blue Origin, launched NASA experiments into space Wednesday on a brief test flight.
The New Shepard rocket blasted off from West Texas, hoisting a capsule containing the experiments. The eight experiments were exposed to a few minutes of weightlessness, before the capsule parachuted down. The rocket also landed successfully, completing its fourth spaceflight.
"That, everybody, is a reusable rocket," said launch commentator Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut and orbital sales. "Welcome home, New Shepard."
This was Blue Origin's 10th test flight, all precursors to launching passengers by year's end. The capsules have six windows, one for each customer. Blue Origin isn't taking reservations just yet. Instead, the Kent, Washington, company is focusing on brief research flights.
Wednesday's flight lasted just over 10 minutes, with the capsule reaching 66 miles high, or 107 kilometres, well within the accepted boundary of space. The experiments featured electronics, rocket fuel, dust particles and biological imaging equipment.
New Shepard is named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard. The company is also developing an orbital-class rocket, New Glenn, which will soar from Cape Canaveral. It's named after the first American to orbit Earth, John Glenn.
Bezos is the founder of Amazon.