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NASA moon-landing technology hitches ride to space on Bezos rocket

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company launched a New Shepard rocket for a seventh time from a remote corner of Texas on Tuesday, testing new lunar-landing technology for NASA that could help put astronauts back on the moon.

The entire flight — barely skimming space with a peak altitude of 66 miles (106 kilometers) — lasted just 10 minutes. The booster landed vertically back at the launch complex after liftoff, and the capsule followed, parachuting onto the desert floor.

The capsule carried science experiments, including 1.2 million tomato seeds that will be distributed to schoolchildren around the U.S. and Canada, and tens of thousands of children’s postcards with space-themed drawings that will be returned to the young senders.

NASA’s navigation equipment for future moon landings was located on the booster. The sensors and computer — tested during the booster’s descent and touchdown — will hitch another

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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin sets launch record as it tests NASA moon gear

Blue Origin set a new mark for recycling rockets Tuesday morning by sending the same New Shepard spacecraft to the edge of space for the seventh time.

The spaceflight company founded and funded by Amazon head Jeff Bezos completed its 13th New Shepard mission from its private launch facility in west Texas while also testing some key equipment for future NASA missions to the moon. 

The mission was originally set for late September from the Texas site, but was delayed multiple times due to weather and technical issues. It finally left Earth at 6:37 a.m. PT (8:37 a.m. Texas time) Tuesday and returned to land at the same facility in two pieces just about 10 minutes later. 

A New Shepard launches for the seventh time.


Blue Origin video capture by Eric Mack/CNET

A few minutes

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NASA moon-landing tech hitches ride to space on Bezos rocket

“Touchdown! New Shepard, here we go. I’m sorry you couldn’t hear me pounding the desk in my mic,” said launch commentator Caitlin Dietrich.

The capsule carried science experiments, including 1.2 million tomato seeds that will be distributed to schoolchildren around the U.S. and Canada, and tens of thousands of children’s postcards with space-themed drawings that will be returned to the young senders.

NASA’s navigation equipment for future moon landings was located on the booster. The sensors and computer — tested during the booster’s descent and touchdown — will hitch another suborbital ride with Blue Origin.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted congratulations following Tuesday’s demo. The space agency needs the ability to land precisely on the moon at specified locations, he noted.

Texas-based Southwest Research Institute had a magnetic asteroid-sampling experiment on board, as well as a mini rocket-fueling test.

Led by Amazon founder Bezos, Washington state-based Blue Origin is leading

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