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New Shepard takes flight in December 2019. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin is planning to launch another test flight of its suborbital New Shepard space system as early as this month, with human test flights expected before the end of the year.

The big picture: The Jeff Bezos-backed rocket company pumped the brakes on its test flight program last year but is now gearing up to launch its next round of flights ahead of its first tests with human passengers.

"[We'll have] about three to four more flights before we go fly people. So we're still on target for this year for doing that, but there's a lot of work to be done."
— Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith to Axios

Context: Blue Origin sees its suborbital space business as key to the company.

  • By testing its human spaceflight systems with New Shepard, Blue Origin plans to translate what it learns into the development of orbital vehicles, like the New Glenn rocket currently being built.
  • The company also sees New Shepard as an important source of inspiration for the public as it works to make Bezos' dream of millions of people living and working in space a reality.

The big questions: Blue Origin has yet to announce a price for tickets, and it's not clear when New Shepard will enter commercial service.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about Blue Origin

Go deeper

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
13 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.