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The New Shepard booster coming in for a landing. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin launched an uncrewed test on Tuesday of the company's New Shepard space system designed to take paying tourists to the edge of space.

Why it matters: This suborbital New Shepard launch is the first of the year for the Jeff Bezos-owned company.

The state of play: New Shepard took flight at 9:36 a.m. ET Tuesday from Blue Origin's West Texas facility carrying about a dozen experiments for the company's customers.

  • One of those experiments was testing out technology that could one day be used to sample asteroids in deep space.
  • “While current asteroid sample return missions visit single asteroids and collect samples from one or two locations on their surface, a future mission carrying dozens of micro-sampler landers like these could return samples from various locations on numerous asteroids,” Alex Parker, a planetary astronomer involved in the experiment, said in a statement.

Between the lines: Another experiment was a Blue Origin landing sensor the company hopes could be used for future missions to the Moon.

  • The company is leading a team competing to build a human-rated lander for NASA's Artemis program.
  • "Using New Shepard to simulate landing on the Moon is an exciting precursor to what the Artemis program will bring to America," Bob Smith, Blue Origin's CEO, said in a statement.

The big picture: Blue Origin isn't the only company aiming to send customers to suborbital space in the near future. Virgin Galactic is also planning to fly private citizens aboard its spaceplane.

Go deeper: Watch a replay of the launch webcast

Go deeper

Virgin Orbit launches satellites into space

The Virgin Orbit "Cosmic Girl," carrying a LauncherOne rocket under it's wing, takes off for the Launch Demo 2 mission from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, on Sunday/ Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket reached space and successfully deployed 10 payloads for NASA's Launch Services Program on Sunday, Richard Branson's company announced.

Why it matters: Per Axios' Miriam Kramer, Virgin Orbit is one of several private spaceflight companies aiming to capitalize on what they believe is a boom in demand for small spacecraft launches.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
33 mins ago - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Who benefits from Biden's move to reopen ACA enrollment

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nearly 15 million Americans who are currently uninsured are eligible for coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than half of them would qualify for subsidies, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation brief.

Why it matters: President Biden is expected to announce today that he'll be reopening the marketplaces for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15, but getting a significant number of people to sign up for coverage will likely require targeted outreach.