The high-altitude escape motor test is designed to simulate what would happen if there was a problem with the launch vehicle during ascent. The spacecraft (which is designed for six passengers) will ignite its small, but powerful, onboard engine to speed away from the rocket in case the launch vehicle explodes while in flight. The team will then attempt to safely land the booster, as it did during a similar test back in 2016.
Despite the fact that this is a test, there are payloads aboard New Shepard. In addition to Mannequin Skywalker, Blue Origin's in-cabin dummy, there will be scientific experiments, spacesuit material tests, WiFi access testing and more throughout the flight.
New Shepard was built with tourists in mind, and the company is moving closer to that goal. The system has not yet had an operational (or crewed) flight, but once tickets are on sale, they may be priced as high as $200,000 to $300,000. Tickets will reportedly be available for purchase sometime in 2019.
Update, 9:40 AM ET: According to Blue Origin's Twitter account, the test has been pushed back an hour to 11AM ET.
Update, 11:30 AM ET: The test was successful -- both capsule and rocket performed and landed as planned.