Blue Origin tests new motor during blastoff from Texas facility

Blue Origin tests new motor during blastoff from Texas facility

Wednesday morning, Blue Origin launched a capsule-carrying New Shepard rocket from its facility in West Texas. One such payload including an experiment funded both privately and by NASA, called Solstar, which tested WiFi capabilities in space.

On Wednesday's flight, Blue Origin says it will push the New Shepard rocket to its limits with a high-altitude escape motor test. The rocket chalked up a seemingly flawless launch and then fell back to Earth, re-starting its hydrogen-fueled BE-3 main engine, deploying four landing legs and settling to a picture-perfect touchdown on a circular pad.

New Shepard's reusable booster comes in for a landing.

Accompanying the dummy aboard the capsule were NASA atmospheric science experiments and payloads from paying customers.

During the launch, Blue Origin engineers were looking for the "red line" on that system, company spokesperson Ariane Cornell said on a webcast during the run-up to the launch, comparing it to the high-stress tests that cars and airplanes undergo before being put on sale. "Mannequin had a smooth, smooth landing".

However, all tests - from test 2 to test 8 - have seen the booster return for a safe pinpoint landing, followed shortly after by the capsule parachuting to a landing site nearby.

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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.

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. After a successful launch, it will be available for use on the capsule's next flight.

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.

The company's Florida team was watching today's webcast, as was the team at Blue Origin's headquarters in Kent, Wash., where New Shepard hardware is manufactured. Its tickets cost $250,000.

But Blue Origin officials have not announced pricing or when tickets might go on sale. We haven't released those details. "That means understanding everything that's necessary for human spaceflight, including the escape system". "It's coming", she said. The experiment will record vehicle conditions including cabin pressure, temperature, CO2, acoustic conditions, and acceleration.

As it continues to progress toward human flights, Blue Origin will perform another potentially unsafe uncrewed test today of its New Shepard rocket and spacecraft. Those missions will rely on the bigger, more powerful New Glenn rocket still under development.

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