Blue Origin just launched its reusable suborbital rocket New Shephard, marking the first time the Jeff Bezos-led company livestreamed one of its usually hushed test flights. (Video footage starts at 00:27.)
The company's end goal has been to use the reusable rockets to send tourists 62 miles up—just above the international boundary of space—where they would achieve 4 minutes of weightlessness before returning safety to Earth.
But unlike its competitor SpaceX, which recently had troubles landing its Falcon 9 on a drone ship, today's Blue Origin test is actually intended to crash land the vehicle capsule to prepare for the event that something goes wrong (Blue Origin already has three successful landings under its belt).
"We're planning to demonstrate the redundancies built into the capsule on this re-flight of the vehicle by intentionally failing one drogue [a smaller parachute that helps it slow down] and one main parachute during descent," explained Bezos in a pre-test email announcement. "This should occur approximately 7 ½ minutes into the flight at an altitude of 24,000 feet."