After 14 months, a new and improved New Shepard flies again
When Blue Origin last flew its New Shepard system, the spacecraft intentionally triggered its abort system 45 seconds after launch. As the spacecraft blasted away from the booster, its escape motor slammed the rocket with 70,000 pounds of off-axis force and hot exhaust. Nevertheless, both the spacecraft and rocket returned safely to the West Texas launch site for a successful test flight.
In the 14 months since that abort-test flight, Blue Origin has been working on an upgraded version of the rocket—to improve its capacity for rapid, low-cost reusability—and the capsule in which six passengers will eventually ride to space inside. For example, the test capsule used during flights in late 2015 and 2016, had painted-on windows. The new variant has actual windows, which at 3.6 feet tall may be the largest of any spacecraft has flown into space.