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First Developmental Test Flight of New Shepard

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:06 pm via: Blue Origin
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Today Blue Origin flew the first developmental test flight of the New Shepard space vehicle. The 110,000-lbf thrust liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen BE-3 engine worked flawlessly, powering New Shepard through Mach 3 to its planned test altitude of 307,000 feet. Guidance, navigation and control was nominal throughout max Q and all of ascent. The in-space separation of the crew capsule from the propulsion module was perfect. Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return.

In fact, if New Shepard had been a traditional expendable vehicle, this would have been a flawless first test flight. Of course one of Blue Origin’s goals is reusability, and unfortunately they didn’t get to recover the propulsion module because they lost pressure in the hydraulic system on descent. Fortunately, they’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 – Blue Origin will be ready to fly again soon.

The New Shepard space vehicle blasts off on its first developmental test flight over Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site. The crew capsule reached apogee at 307,000 feet before beginning its descent back to Earth.

The New Shepard space vehicle blasts off on its first developmental test flight over Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site. The crew capsule reached apogee at 307,000 feet before beginning its descent back to Earth.

They continue to be big fans of the vertical takeoff, vertical landing architecture. They chose VTVL because it’s scalable to very large size. They’re already designing New Shepard’s sibling, her Very Big Brother – an orbital launch vehicle that is many times New Shepard’s size and is powered by the 550,000-lbf thrust liquefied natural gas, liquid oxygen BE-4 engine.

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