The head of Amazon, Jeff Bezo’s space-faring side project Blue Origin has finished developing a suborbital spaceship with tests set to go underway this year, the company has announced.
The newly developed BE-3 hydrogen rocket will propel the firm’s ‘New Shepard’ spaceship capable of ferrying three passengers 62 miles above the Earth’s surface, launching from a test facility in west Texas.
New Shepard’s first few flights will be unmanned before pilots are enlisted for the trip into Earth’s upper atmosphere.
On the achievement, Bezos said: “We test, learn, refine and then test again to push our engines. The Blue Origin team did an outstanding job exploring the corners of what the BE‑3 can do and soon we’ll put it to the ultimate test of flight.”
The company has not yet opened up flights to the public but such a move will be imminent if this year’s examinations and refinements prove successful.
The company will have many trials and tribulations to surpass however, with Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson admitting “space is hard” in the aftermath of SpaceShipTwo’s tragic crash during a test flight in November, killing one driver and seriously injuring another.
Space Exploration Technologies, SpaceX, and Boeing are also developing sub-orbital systems in what is an increasingly saturated space-race market.