Rocketeer Jeff Bezos. Credit: Blue Origin

Rocketeer Jeff Bezos.
Credit: Blue Origin

The innovative and pioneer-pushing Blue Origin is ready to fly its New Shepard suborbital vehicle this Sunday.

Blue Origin is an entrepreneurial space firm backed by Amazon.com mogul, Jeff Bezos. This rocket system is undergoing extensive testing – all prelude to offering rides to paying passengers to the edge of space.

You can watch this uncrewed flight of the same New Shepard hardware that’s chalked up three previous missions this Sunday.

Liftoff of suborbital space tourism, backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Credit: Blue Origin

Liftoff of suborbital space tourism, backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Credit: Blue Origin

Liftoff is planned for approximately 10:15 am ET and the live webcast starts half an hour earlier at 9:45 am ET at:

www.blueorigin.com

Retrothrust system

“On this flight, we’ll intentionally fail one string of parachutes on the capsule,” Bezos explains in a company statement. “There are three strings of chutes and two of the three should still deploy nominally and, along with our retrothrust system, safely land the capsule.”

Trajectory profile. Credit: Blue Origin

Trajectory profile.
Credit: Blue Origin

But Bezos adds: “Works on paper, and this test is designed to validate that.”

Bezos and his team of rocketeers will also use the upcoming flight to continue pushing the envelope on the booster.

“As always, this is a development test flight and anything can happen,” Bezos points out.

 

Pushing the envelope

New Shepard last flew on April 2, 2016 reaching an apogee of 339,178 feet or 103 kilometers. It was the third flight with the same hardware.

Capsule for six. Credit: Blue Origin

Capsule for six.
Credit: Blue Origin

Blue Origin technicians pushed the envelope on the last flight, restarting the engine for the propulsive landing only 3,600 feet above the ground, requiring the vehicle’s BE-3 engine to start fast and ramp to high thrust fast.

Reusable rocketry

The New Shepard space vehicle is fully reusable and is flown from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site.

The vehicle is comprised of two elements—a crew capsule in which the astronauts ride and a rocket booster powered by a single American-made BE-3 liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen engine. At liftoff, the BE-3 delivers 110,000 pounds of thrust.

Bounding to the boundary

Named in honor of the first American in space, Alan Shepard, the Blue Origin New Shepard craft is a vertical takeoff and vertical landing vehicle, designed to carry six astronauts to altitudes beyond 100 kilometers, the internationally-recognized boundary of space.

New Shepard is named after America's first space pilot, Alan Shepard. He flew over 55 years ago on a 15-minute suborbital flight, lifting off on May 5, 1961 and splashing down in the Atlantic under parachute. Credit: NASA

New Shepard is named after America’s first space pilot, Alan Shepard. He flew over 55 years ago on a 15-minute suborbital flight, lifting off on May 5, 1961 and splashing down in the Atlantic under parachute.
Credit: NASA

 

 

 

Blue Origin astronauts would experience weightlessness and views through the largest windows to ever fly in space.

According to the company, astronaut flights will begin following completion of a step-by-step flight test program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources

An animation of the Blue Origin astronaut experience can be found at:

www.blueorigin.com/astronaut-experience.

Take a look at this impressive video of New Shepard’s last flight at:

https://www.blueorigin.com/gallery#youtubeYU3J-jKb75g

Once again, the vehicle’s next liftoff is planned for Sunday, June 19 at approximately 10:15 am Eastern Time and the live webcast is to be available half an hour earlier at 9:45 am ET at:

www.blueorigin.com

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