Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Blue Origin test flight simulates space launch emergency

Grady Vargas | 19 July, 2018, 07:44

To keep the booster from being blasted, Blue Origin programmed the capsule to make a clean separation to a distance of several hundred feet before the escape rocket motor fired up. Its effectiveness is essential to ensuring the safety of any people who might ride aboard the capsule in the future. The rocket and crew capsule system is aimed at the suborbital tourism market, allowing paying customers to enjoy into a few minutes of zero-G flight prior to a parachute-assisted landing.

Bezos is developing the reusable New Shepard rocket and capsule to carry up to six space tourists, researchers and/or experiments on brief sub-orbital flights out of the discernible atmosphere to altitudes just above 100 kilometers - 62 miles - the generally accepted "boundary" of space.

Both the booster and capsule that sits atop the rocket successfully returned to Earth.

Wednesday's flight will be the ninth by a New Shepard rocket, and the third using Blue Origin's most recent model of the single-stage vehicle, which debuted in December and made its second launch and landing in April.

Another payload offered an unusual synergy with another part of Blue Origin.

Piloted test flights are expected to start later this year, but no target dates have been announced.

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The launch was webcast live on Blue Origin's website.

Although Blue Origin is yet to provide details, it is understood the company has already purchased the first landing ship for returning New Glenn boosters. (Blue Origin via You Tube) New Shepard's capsule fires its retros as it touches down for a landing.

Wednesday's passenger was Mannequin Skywalker, an instrumented dummy in a blue flight suit that's flown before, plus science experiments.

"We haven't started selling tickets yet for the trip to space", said Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin's launch commentator. A separate employee said prices would begin at $200,000, according to Reuters. "But we've got our eyes on the prize". "It's coming", she said.

For Wednesday's flight, the spacecraft was loaded with a variety of experiments, including instrumentation provided by NASA to measure pressure, acoustics, acceleration and other factors, a WiFi experiment, a study of how fine particles interact in random collisions and another NASA experiment to learn more about how water droplets behave in microgravity. There is speculation that Bezos himself, the world's richest person, will be among the first people to fly on New Shepard.

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