Blue Origin successfully tests escape system in latest New Shepard launch

Darnell Taylor
July 18, 2018

Along with the suborbital New Shepard rockets and spacecraft, Blue Origin also is developing a powerful new engine, the BE-4, to help boost satellites into orbit using much larger New Glenn rockets.

As Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos watched, his Blue Origin space venture sent its reusable New Shepard spaceship to its highest-ever altitude during a successful test of a rocket motor that's meant to be used only in emergencies.

The high-altitude emergency abort test is created to figure out what may happen when there's a problem with the launch rocket, according to Engadget.

Despite the fact that this is a test, there are payloads aboard New Shepard. Blue Origin accomplished a low-altitude abort test with a previous version of the New Shepard vehicle in October 2016, proving the capsule's solid-fueled abort motor could get passengers away from a catastrophic in-flight failure.

"It's an important test in our march towards flying humans into space, which hopefully will be soon", Ariane Cornell, head of astronaut strategy and sales at Blue Origin, during a company webcast of the test. It should start at 8 a.m. PT.

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

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"We are excited to join the upcoming New Shepard flight".

After that, the capsule's experiments enjoyed about five minutes of weightlessness as the spacecraft arced over at the top of its trajectory before plunging back into the discernible atmosphere.

It is a so-called "full envelope" abort system, meaning it is created to operate in all phases of flight, from ground level to high altitudes and any point in between.

The reusable New Shepard booster is created to take off from a launch pad, climb to the internationally-recognized boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), and land nearby with rocket thrust and aerobrakes. Last week, it was reported that the firm's space trips could cost at least $200,000. (Blue Origin via YouTube) The New Shepard capsule makes its descent. "We have not set ticket pricing and have had no serious discussions inside of Blue on the topic", said the statement. "Just another day at the office", she said. The experiment will record vehicle conditions including cabin pressure, temperature, CO2, acoustic conditions, and acceleration.

This year has already been packed with rocket launches, and many of those have come from SpaceX.

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