Washington — With an eye to launching the first tourists to space by year’s end, Blue Origin, the rocket company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, blasted off a test flight of its New Shepard rocket. The rocket, carrying no people on board but eight science experiments for Nasa, soared skywards from a launchpad in west Texas at 3.08pm GMT against a clear blue sky. A few minutes into the flight, the capsule separated as planned from the booster and reached its peak height of 106km. “That is exactly what we were targeting,” said Ariane Cornell, an astronaut for Blue Origin and commentator on the company’s live webcast of the launch. The frontier of space is internationally agreed to be 100km above Earth, known as the Karman Line. Eight minutes after blast-off, the rocket booster fired its engines and made a controlled, upright landing back on Earth, marking the fourth flight for this particular rocket, and the 10th flight test for New Shepard overall.

“That, everybody, is a re-usa...

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