Blue Origin test flight simulates space launch emergency

19 July, 2018, 17:23 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Blue Origin New Shepard launch

The launch from Blue Origin's test site in West Texas is set to occur at 14:00 UTC - with the test campaign now in the final leg ahead of carrying paying customers.

The company conducted a spaceflight test on 18 July 2018, launching the rocket into space and cleanly separating the booster and crew capsule - before both began their return to Earth.

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

Unlike SpaceX, which thus far has largely focused on sending cargo into space as opposed to humans, Blue Origin is leading the charge on space tourism and crewed missions.

Although there weren't any people aboard this test flight, Blue Origin's test dummy, Mannequin Skywalker, was strapped in a chair to measure the gravitation forces a real body might experience during a somewhat violent abort.

Blue Origin is set to push the rocket to its limits during this test.

Booster landing
New Shepard’s reusable booster comes in for a landing

"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.

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.

This is the ninth test of the reusable New Shepard system and the third in which it has included commercial payloads on its short suborbital flights.

Piloted test flights are expected to start later this year, but no target dates have been announced. The Reuters news agency, quoting an unnamed source, recently reported that tickets were expected to initially cost between $200,000 and $300,000, making it competitive with rides aboard the winged spaceplane Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is developing. "It's coming", she said. The propulsion module, about 30 meters away from the crew capsule when the motor fired, was unaffected by the test and made a powered vertical landing on a pad near the launch site.

Those payloads some that flew previously, like the Schmitt Space Communicator developed by Solstar, a New Mexico company seeking to demonstrate the use of wifi communications technologies in space.

The West Texas launch facility is near Van Horn.


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