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Blue Origin, the commercial space company bankrolled by founder Jeff Bezos, plans to begin unmanned orbital flight tests of its biconic-shape human capsule in 2018. Ultimately, the company will use an orbital launch vehicle powered at least in part by a clean-sheet cryogenic engine it now has demonstrated can support suborbital human spaceflight.

Initial flights of the seven-seat orbital human vehicle—so far known only as “Space Vehicle”—are scheduled to go on the Atlas V, which has also been the choice of other companies vying for a NASA contract to transport crews to the International Space Station. By then, Blue Origin also plans to have “astronaut passengers” flying suborbital missions in its New Shepard capsule as it builds toward a commercial operation that will provide suborbital and orbital human spaceflight to a variety of private and government customers, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and other military organizations.

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