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Blue Origin Planning Next Test Launch for Early October

The "pusher escape system" shown in action on the crew capsule of Blue Origin's "New Shephard" space craft. (Blue Origin)

Billionaire Jeff Bezos said Thursday his commercial space company Blue Origin is planning to perform another test launch from the company's West Texas facility in early October.

According to Bezos, this launch will feature an "in-flight escape test" involving the New Shephard space craft's crew capsule.

"Our next flight is going to be dramatic, no matter how it ends," Bezos said in an email, adding that the it will be the company's "toughest test yet."

"We'll intentionally trigger an escape in flight and at the most stressing condition: maximum dynamic pressure through transonic velocities," he said.

This test will mark the fifth time Blue Origin has reused a single rocket booster, a new technology the company has focused much of its developmental efforts on.

But, Bezos said, this next test will "probably destroy" that rocket, and it's likely it won't be able to be used again.

"We'd really like to retire it after this test and put it in a museum," Bezos said. "Sadly, that's not likely."

Bezos said New Shephard's rocket booster wasn't designed to survive an in-flight escape, and that on the off chance that it does survive, the company will "reward it for its service with a retirement party." (And yes, put it in a museum.)

There's not set date for the test yet, but the company hopes to blast off from Culberson County in early October. Bezos said this flight will be live-streamed online again, as the company's last test in June was.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.