Blue Origin, the private spaceflight company started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos , performed another test flight of its New Shepard rocket Wednesday, bringing it closer to flying humans to space in a very tangible way. The 15th launch of New Shepard, dubbed NS-15, started with humans inside the crew capsule, although none of them actually flew on the mission.
On Wednesday morning, Blue Origin went through the motions of driving astronaut stand-ins for the day from its training facility down to the launch pad. There they paused for a photo in front of New Shepard and then climbed the tower and loaded into the capsule.
Audrey Powers, Blue Origin vice president for legal, and engineer Gary Lai, who is responsible for helping lead the design of New Shepard, climbed into the capsule, buckled in and performed a communications check with mission control. The hatch was closed but not latched, as after a few minutes everyone but a dummy named Mannequin Skywalker exited the capsule and departed the landing pad.