Named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space, New Shepard is our reusable suborbital rocket system designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line – the internationally recognized boundary of space. Whether you are an astronaut flying with Blue Origin or sending a payload to space, our 11-minute flight profile from takeoff to gentle touchdown will be an experience of a lifetime you’ll never forget.
The New Shepard system is a fully reusable, vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) space vehicle.
The system consists of a pressurized capsule atop a booster. The combined vehicles launch vertically, accelerating for approximately two and a half minutes, before the engine cuts off. The capsule then separates from the booster to coast quietly into space. After a few minutes of free fall, the booster performs an autonomously controlled rocket-powered vertical landing, while the capsule lands softly under parachutes, both ready to be used again.
Reusability allows us to fly the system again and again. With each flight, we’ll continuously improve the affordability of space exploration and research, opening space for all.
The New Shepard capsule and booster are being designed and tested to exceptionally high standards, in a process that is both rigorous and disciplined. Our manufacturing and assembly technicians have years of experience in aircraft and spacecraft manufacturing.
All elements of the New Shepard system are being tested extensively, both on the ground and during uncrewed test flights. From vibration tables and thermal chambers to hundreds of engine firings, these tests stress the vehicles and all of their subsystems.
Our flight test program continues to build experience with the New Shepard system in an uncrewed configuration, leading up to the day when we are ready for astronauts to climb on board for launch.
As the rocket reenters the atmosphere, air flows through a ring at the top of the booster, passively moving the center of pressure to help control descent. Four wedge-shaped fins also deploy to further enhance aerodynamic stability.
Descending at the speed of sound, the booster deploys eight large drag brakes, reducing the vehicle’s speed by half.
In addition to powering the New Shepard system to space with 110,000 lbs. of thrust, the BE-3PM liquid rocket engine is also designed to restart as the vehicle returns, slowing the booster to just 5 mph for landing.
Fins near the base of the booster pivot to stabilize the vehicle during ascent and steer it back to the landing pad on descent. Hydraulic actuators provide enough force to drive these fins through airspeeds up to Mach 4.
Retractable landing legs deploy for a controlled landing on the pad.
The vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) booster will add something truly modern – after separating from the capsule, the booster will return to Earth. Deploying landing gear, the rocket will make a precise touchdown, enabling reusability.
Sitting atop a 60-foot-tall rocket in a capsule designed for six people, you’ll feel the engine ignite and rumble under you as you climb through the atmosphere. Accelerating at more than 3 Gs to faster than Mach 3, you will count yourself as one of the few who have reached these speeds and crossed into space. The capsule will then return under parachutes for a gentle landing back in the West Texas desert.
New Shepard’s capsule interior is an ample 530 cubic feet — offering over 10 times the room Alan Shepard had on his Mercury flight. Enough room for you to do somersaults and float freely during your zero-g experience at the top of your flight. Every astronaut will take in the unparalleled views from the largest windows in space. Every seat is a window seat.
As the main engine cuts off, your capsule will separate from its booster and perfect stillness will surround you. You’ll release your harness and experience the freedom of weightlessness.
Our New Shepard capsule features the largest windows in spaceflight history. These windows make up a third of the capsule, immersing you in the vastness of space and life-changing views of our blue planet. Each window is made of multiple layers of fracture-tough transparencies, designed to provide crystal clarity of the incredible views before you. Minimizing distortion and reflection, the windows transmit 92% of visible light – as good as glass.
The crew capsule descends under parachutes for a smooth landing, in the same way as the earliest space pioneers. Three independent parachutes provide redundancy, while a retro-thrust system further cushions your landing.
From the time astronauts are secured in their seats until the capsule separates from the booster near apogee, escape is an option if needed. Drawing from the lessons of Mercury and Apollo, this is known as “full-envelope” escape.
The New Shepard escape system is built around a solid rocket motor that provides 70,000 lbs. of thrust in a two-second burn, so the capsule can quickly move away from any hazard.
Following a thrilling launch, you’ll soar over 100 km above Earth – beyond the internationally recognized edge of space. You’ll help extend the legacy of space explorers who have come before you, while pioneering access to the space frontier for all.
Two days before your flight, you’ll travel with your guests to the New Shepard launch site in the beautiful high desert plains. The area’s isolation lends clarity and focus as you prepare for the experience of a lifetime.
The day before launch, you’ll learn everything you need to know to make the most of your experience as an astronaut. The active and fun day-long session will help you feel comfortable and prepared for spaceflight and your responsibilities as an astronaut.
Training includes mission and vehicle overviews, in-depth safety briefings, mission simulation and instruction on your in-flight activities such as operational procedures, communications and maneuvering in a weightless environment.
As the sun rises over the launch site, we’ll complete final pre-launch checks and clear you for flight. Anticipation mounting, you’ll ascend the launch tower step-by-step to the rocket, climb through the hatch and prepare for countdown. After you’re strapped in, you’ll receive final clearance to launch and conduct a final communications and readiness check.
The combined capsule and booster will launch vertically from the launchpad. You’ll accelerate, experiencing over 3 Gs for 150 seconds before the booster engine cuts off, and the vehicle glides into space. You’ll communicate with Mission Control about altitude, speed, time and G force as the Earth retreats through your window.
As the sky fades to black and you coast into space, a perfect silence will surround you. Your capsule will separate from the booster, and you’ll receive clearance to release your harness. You’ll marvel in weightless freedom and lose yourself in breathtaking views through the largest windows in spaceflight history. Having crossed over the Kármán Line into space, you will have earned your astronaut wings.
Your journey is hardly over at landing. We’ll help you capture and remember your experience with high-definition videos, pictures, and mementos from your flight. You can share these with friends and family for a lifetime. You’ll also belong to an exclusive Blue Origin alumni network – a community of modern space pioneers. Make history with a suborbital flight, and you will receive early access to purchase tickets for our future orbital missions.