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Blue Origin prepares for Sunday suborbital test flight – space flight now

Stock photo of a previous release of New Shepard. Credit: Blue Origin

Blue Origin plans to launch its next suborbital test on Sunday from the company's extensive development complex in West Texas, owner Jeff Bezos announced Friday.

The one-stage New Shepard rocket has a launch window that opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT, 8:30 a.m. CDT).

"The launch preparations are under way for the eighth New Shepard test flight, as we continue our progress towards manned space flights," Bezos tweeted.

Reusable The new Shepard reinforcement is expected to ship the Blue Origin crew capsule, which will carry out research and non-passenger experiments on Sunday's test, on the edge of space, an internationally recognized limit of about 100 miles (62 miles) on Earth. It is expected that the crew capsule will separate from the rocket once the main engine is cut, then return to the ground below parachute.

Meanwhile, the New Shepard propeller will fall to Earth before deploying a drag brake, reactivating its fuel hydrogen BE-3, and extending the landing legs for a smooth vertical contact on a landing strip. concrete.

That assumes that the flight plan reflects the trajectory of the latest New Shepard test launches.

A temporary flight restriction issued by the Federal Aviation Administration covering the Blue Origin test site, located north of Van Horn, Texas, is valid from 9:30 a.m. EDT until 4 p. M. EDT (8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. CDT) on Sunday to "provide a safe environment for the launch and recovery of the rocket".

The flight restriction also covers possible launch windows every day until Wednesday.

Blue Origin will broadcast the test via live flight Internet, and the video will be available on this page.

The test flight on Sunday is expected to reuse the same New Shepard reinforcement that made its first launch in December.

The rocket launched on December 13 is the third of Blue Origin Vehicle Shepard. The first New Shepard model was lost in an attempt to land in April 2015, and Blue Origin withdrew the second unit after making five successful suborbital jumps.

The December test flight also debuted the Blue Origin enhanced crew capsule, which has large windows to offer passengers spectacular views on their trips to space and vice versa.

Blue Origin did not provide a live video broadcast of the December 13 test flight, after live transmissions of the two previous New Shepard demonstration missions in 2016.

The company expects to be ready to transport people on the New Shepard test flights before the end of the year, followed by the start of the commercial space tourism service in 2019.

But Blue Origin is already offering trips for governmental and commercial research charges, and more experiments will be aboard the capsule of the crew without a pilot on Sunday.

"These charges represent a range of users, from NASA's Johnson Space Center to a small commercial communications company, as well as our first European customers, funded by the German national space agency, DLR," Blue said. Origin "Each of the loads has been equipped with a custom Blue Payload Locker to provide structural, power and data interfaces throughout the flight."

NASA's payload includes sensors to measure the environment: carbon dioxide levels, pressure, acceleration and acoustics – inside the cockpit of the crew capsule, and test components for the Orion spacecraft from the space agency. A New Mexico-based commercial communications company called Solstar is conducting a technical demonstration to test the concept of providing Wi-Fi access to users in space, according to Blue Origin.

Three experiments in biology and physics from German universities and research institutes will also fly on Sunday, said Blue Origin.

The New Shepard suborbital vehicle is a trampoline of the larger Blue Orbital class New Glenn rocket, which according to the company could make its first test flight from Cape Canaveral by the end of 2010.

Blue engineers Origin is testing a more powerful rocket motor, the BE-4 powered by liquefied natural gas, for the New Glenn launcher. The company also expects to sell BE-4 engines to the United Launch Alliance for the next-generation Vulcan rocket.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .

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