Blue Origin subjects its rocket to high-altitude escape test
Blue Origin subjects its rocket to high-altitude escape test
The latest view of Blue Origin’s Florida launch site – via L2
19 July, 2018, 02:56
Once it reached the threshold of space, the capsule fired its motors, shooting it away from the booster in a maneuver the company said would "push the rocket to its limits". Its effectiveness is essential to ensuring the safety of any people who might ride aboard the capsule in the future.
The test will simulate an emergency high altitude "escape motor" test.
The motor performed as expected, giving the capsule an extra boost and setting an altitude record of 118.8 kilometers before landing by parachute 11 minutes after liftoff.
This was the third trip to space for both this New Shepherd rocket booster and the crew capsule, both created to be reusable like SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster and Dragon capsules.
Overall, this was Blue Origin's ninth test flight of a New Shepherd rocket. Wednesday's flight tested the system at high altitude, just after the booster's BE-3 engine shut down following a smooth climb out of the thick lower atmosphere. The company says more than 700 people have signed up to fly.
The test flight also carried 12 payloads and even a passenger - specifically an instrumented dummy brilliantly named "Mannequin Skywalker". Another reflown payload was an electromagnetic field experiment from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, previous versions of which went on the sixth and seventh test flights of the vehicle.
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The reusable New Shepard rocket settles to a picture-perfect touchdown.
Another experiment, Granular Anisotropic Gases, was developed by Otto-von-Guericke University in Germany and funded by the German space agency DLR.
It's also not yet known how much Blue Origin plans to charge for rides in a New Shepard capsule. At the time of publishing, Blue Origin Origin did not reply to questions about how many more tests flights are needed before testing with humans begins. But the company has not set a firm timetable for the start of crewed test flights, or the launch of commercial services directed at the space tourism and suborbital research markets.
The test campaign began in 2015, and despite the loss of the first booster, the second flight in November 2015 kick-started a successful run of test flights. The next flight, Cornell said, will feature "finished customer interiors" like those that will be used on commercial flights of the vehicle, meant to carry up to six people.
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