Jeffrey P. Bezos' Blue Origin got a step closer to flying tourists to space: On Tuesday, the company launched a life-size dummy it named "Mannequin Skywalker" from its remote Texas facility.
The updated booster and crew capsule — which Blue Origin hopes to use to fly its first human tourists to space as early as next year — hit a peak altitude of nearly 100 kilometers, or what's considered the threshold of space, the company said in a statement. (Bezos, who is the founder and chief executive of Amazon.com Inc., also owns the Washington Post.)
The New Shepard booster — named for Alan Shepard, the first American in space — then flew back to Earth and touched down on a landing pad so it can be reused.
The capsule, designed with what Blue Origin said are the largest windows ever to fly into space, floated back under parachutes for a soft landing in a flight that lasted 10 minutes and six seconds.
"#NewShepard had a successful first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0 today," Bezos wrote on Twitter. "Complete with windows and our instrumented test dummy. He had a great ride."
The rocket blasted off midday Tuesday, but Blue Origin didn't announce it until some 11 hours later, and the Federal Aviation Administration, which licensed the launch, refused to confirm that it had occurred.