Jeff Bezos' New Shepard rocket just had an important test flight. Here’s what happened

Blue Origin

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos just successfully tested the in-flight escape system for his reusable New Shepard rocket that could someday carry tourists to the edge of space and back. 

During the test flight, the space capsule successfully ejected from the rocket booster and then landed safely back on Earth. 

The escape system is designed to eject the crewed capsule from the rocket booster if anything goes wrong during the launch. The only objective of this test flight was to safely eject the crew capsule:

The capsule was successfully ejected.  Blue Origin/YouTube

And then test the capsule's parachutes and landing gear:

The parachutes deploy  Blue Origin/YouTube
The capsule touches down  Blue Origin/YouTube

As a bonus, Blue Origin was also able to recover the rocket booster by landing it vertically back on Earth:

Rocket booster landing  Blue Origin/YouTube

Bezos wants to start offering rides on New Shepard as soon as 2018. The rocket will carry people just over 62 miles above the Earth where they can experience a few moments of weightlessness, see the curvature of the Earth and then float back down to the ground. 

This test flight was a big step toward making that happen.