Blue Origin's New Shepard successfully performs in-flight escape test

After a string of successful launches and landings, Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket took to the skies one last time today in an effort to test the in-flight escape capabilities of the rocket's crew capsule. The launch turned out to be a success, with the crew capsule successfully performing its in-flight escape and falling back down to Earth safely.

It was a success in more ways than one too, as the team performing the launch was able to land the booster as well. On its own, that may not seem all that impressive – after all, Blue Origin has already managed to land the New Shepard rocket on a number of previous test flights. However, the expectation here was that the crew capsule's escape procedures would disrupt the booster's trajectory, causing it to lose control and crash land back on Earth.

That didn't happen, though. Not only did the crew capsule make it back to solid ground safely, but escape procedure doesn't appear to have effected the booster in any significant way, allowing the Blue Origin crew to maintain control and bring that back safely as well. To have everything go right with this test has to be encouraging for Blue Origin, which has found itself in something of a space race with other star-bound companies such as Elon Musk's SpaceX.

Blue Origin live streamed the entire event, devoting a significant portion of the broadcast to pre-launch preparations. The whole stream is interesting and worth a watch, but if you don't have a spare hour laying around, you can skip ahead to 1:05:30 to watch the launch and subsequent landings.

This was the final launch for this particular New Shepard rocket, which has been through five launches in all now that this latest one is in the books. Blue Origin recently revealed its New Glenn rocket, which will have two variants. The company hopes to see it fly by 2020 and has plans to use it to take both satellites and humans into space.