Blue Origin aims to launch the delayed New Shepard flight on Monday – Spaceflight Now

Blue Origin's New Shepard reinforcer on the launch pad. Credit: Blue Origin

Blue Origin plans to launch the next test flight of its New Shepard suborbital reinforcement on Monday from western Texas as the commercial space company moves closer to people flying to the edge of space.

The company, founded by Jeff Bezos of Amazon, said in a tweet that the teams solved an unspecified "ground infrastructure problem" that delayed the December mission and that the weather looks good for launch on Monday.

The new New Shepard stage will take off from the Blue Origin test facility north of Van Horn, Texas. Blue Origin says it will provide a live transmission of the flight, which is scheduled to take off at 9 a.m. CST (10 a.m. EST, 1500 GMT).

The launch will mark the tenth flight of a New Shepard rocket, and the fourth flight of the New Shepard reusable vehicle currently in service.

When it takes off, the flight is expected to rise to an altitude of more than 60 miles, or 100 kilometers, powered by a BE-3 engine powered by hydrogen. NASA's research payload will fly inside a crew capsule on the New Shepard propeller, but there will be no pbadengers aboard the launch.

The propeller and the capsule will separate after turning off the main engine of the rocket. Both vehicles will return to Earth, with the rocket pointing to a controlled vertical landing on a landing platform with the help of a braking burn of a BE-3 engine powered by hydrogen, and the parachute capsule on the desert floor. a few miles away.

Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin astronaut strategy and sales chief, told an industry conference on January 8 that New Shepard's next flight is a springboard before the company starts to fly employees and eventually pay the pbadengers, up to the limit of space and back.

"We have another launch coming soon, which will be another test to test New Shepard before putting people on board," Cornell said at the SciTech Institute of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in San Diego. "We're getting there, I'm as anxious as all of you, but we have to do it well, and everyone wins when we do it right."

Cornell said on January 8 that Blue Origin is "aiming to fly people in early 2019."

"But let's be clear … only when we're ready," he said. "Believe me, if I could, I would jump on that rocket tomorrow." We have already had several successful tests with New Shepard, so I would love to go. But we are not selling tickets yet. We have not yet selected a price, despite what you have read … We have not determined when we will sell the tickets. We are very focused right now on testing New Shepard through and through. "

Monday's launch will be Blue Origin's first flight since July 18, when engineers demonstrated the vehicle's high-altitude abortion capability.

The solid fuel cancellation engine of the capsule fired to rapidly accelerate the ship away from the rocket, simulating the escape maneuver that pbadengers would use to quickly move away from a high-altitude missile propeller. Blue Origin performed a low altitude cancellation demonstration in 2016.

Blue Origin is currently flying its third New Shepard propeller, after losing the first vehicle during a landing accident and removing the second rocket. A fourth New Shepard rocket arrived at the Blue Origin launch site in west Texas from the company's headquarters near Seattle to prepare for flights with people.

Blue Origin's main competitor in the suborbital space tourism market, Virgin Galactic, flew its SpaceShipTwo space rocket to the edge of space for the first time on December 13 with two test pilots at the controls.

The SpaceShipTwo rocket plane reached a maximum altitude of 51.4 miles, or 82.7 kilometers, on last month's test flight, above the 50-mile mark used by the US Air Force. UU And the Federal Aviation Administration to determine who was awarded astronaut wings. New Blue Shepard flights from Blue Origin, none of which has carried pbadengers or employees to date, have reached heights over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the Kármán line, the internationally recognized space limit.

A New Shepard test launch of April 29 flew at an altitude of 351,000 feet, or approximately 107 kilometers. Bezos said those are Blue Origin's goals for New Shepard's operational flights.

Although Blue Origin has not announced the price of a ticket and is not accepting transportation requests, Virgin Galactic says it has received deposits from hundreds of people for a $ 250,000 ticket to the space, where pbadengers will experience several minutes of weightlessness.

Blue Origin is developing a much larger rocket called New Glenn to transport satellites and finally people into orbit.

The new Glenn is scheduled for its first launch from Cape Canaveral in 2021, Cornell said.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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