Blue Origin completed their 9th test flight of New Shepard from their launch site in West Texas. For this test, Blue Origin tested the Capsule Escape Motor approximately 20 seconds after separation to determine how the Solid Rocket Motor operates at that attitude.
There was some concern that the test could cause issues for the booster landing, however, it successfully returned back following the successful separation.
As a result of this, the capsule traveled 50,000 ft higher than previous flights to a height of 389,846 ft but still returned safely to a touchdown under the three parachutes 11 minutes 17 seconds after launch.
This was the 3rd flight for this booster, capsule and also for Mannequin Skywalker who traveled inside the capsule to allow Blue Origin to see the impact of the flight on a life-sized mannequin.
Last Sunday Blue Origin successfully launched their 8th New Shepard mission as they continue their march towards sub-orbital crewed missions.
This was the first launch of 2018 for Blue Origin and was announced several days before by Jeff Bezo’s via Twitter.
Once launched the booster successfully deployed the crew capsule before coming back for a safe landing, the crew module achieved an apogee of 351,000 feet before descending to a successful landing under its parachutes.
At present Blue Origin hasn’t announced when it will begin crewed flights but each test they complete brings them one step closer to achieving that goal.
Blue Origin completed the first test flight of there New Shepard rocket yesterday, the New Shepard rocket uses their BE-3 engine which recently completed testing. The rocket is design to be fully re-usable, unfortunately they were not able to recover the main stage this time due to a hydraulic issue after the crew capsule was released.
The New Shepard system is design to carry six crew members on a sub-orbital flight and return to earth by parachute. The main stage of the rocket is designed to release the capsule and then propulsively return to the launch pad, below is a quote from Blue Origin’s press release regarding the status of this and future flights.
In fact, if New Shepard had been a traditional expendable vehicle, this would have been a flawless first test flight. Of course one of our goals is reusability, and unfortunately we didn’t get to recover the propulsion module because we lost pressure in our hydraulic system on descent. Fortunately, we’ve already been in work for some time on an improved hydraulic system. Also, assembly of propulsion module serial numbers 2 and 3 is already underway – we’ll be ready to fly again soon.
– Jeff Bezos
As was previous announced by United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Blue Origin they are also working on a more powerful rocket engine called the BE-4 which will be used by the new Vulcan rocket from ULA.
In related news Blue Origin also revamped there Web Site providing a lot more details on the New Shepard System and allow an opportunity to reserve tickets for future flights.
Below is a video of the test