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Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches New Shepard from Texas

The rocket's 10th mission brought NASA-sponsored research to the edge of space.

blueorigin-newshepard-m9-boosterlanding

Blue Origin sent its New Shepard rocket (seen touching down last July) up for its 10th mission on Wednesday.

Blue Origin

Blue Origin reached space for the first time in six months with the Wednesday launch of its New Shepard rocket.

The rocket company, owned by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, sent eight NASA-sponsored research projects up to spend a little time at the edge of space before smoothly returning to Earth.

It was New Shepard's 10th mission (NS-10) and was originally set for December, but was halted due to "a ground infrastructure issue." The mission was rescheduled for Monday, but wind forecasts pushed it again to today.

The reusable rocket reached its apogee and fell back to Earth, using its booster engine to cushion its landing and remain upright.

The research projects, which were kept in an unmanned crew capsule that separated from the rocket around 66 miles (107 km) up, got three to four minutes of microgravity before a trio of parachutes brought them gently back down.

Blue Origin streamed the launch on YouTube, and a handy gauge at the side of the screen showed the various stages -- liftoff, max Gs, main engine cutoff, the capsule's separation from the booster and the apogee. 

After that, it tracked the return to Earth, including the deployment of its wedge fins and drag brake, the boosters restarting, the New Shepard touchdown and the crew capsule's arrival.

In total, the mission lasted 10 minutes and 15 seconds, with the rocket hitting a maximum ascent velocity of 2,226 mph (3,582 kmph).

A spacefaring legend even weighed in on the mission's success.

"Congratulations to @blueorigin and Jeff Bezos -- on the successful launch of Shepard rocket! Alan Shepard would be proud!" tweeted Buzz Aldrin.

Aldrin is the former NASA astronaut who became the second man to set foot on the surface on the moon, shortly after Neil Armstrong, during 1969's Apollo 11 mission. Alan Shepard was the first American to travel to space on Freedom 7 in 1961, and the inspiration for the New Shepard rocket's name.

First published at 7:01 a.m. PT.
Updated at 7:47 a.m. PT: Reflects on mission's success, adds details.
Updated at 9:04 a.m. PT: Adds Aldrin tweet.

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