Max Q In-Flight Escape (slow motion)
On October 5, 2016, we conducted an in-flight escape test of New Shepard’s full-envelope escape system at Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site.
This flight was our toughest test yet. We intentionally triggered an escape of the crew capsule in flight and at the most stressing condition: maximum dynamic pressure through transonic velocities. The test was conducted with the same reusable New Shepard booster that we had already flown four times.
Redundant separation systems severed the crew capsule from the booster at the same time we ignited the escape motor. The escape motor vectored thrust to steer the capsule to the side, out of the booster’s path. The high acceleration portion of the escape lasted less than two seconds, but by then the capsule was hundreds of feet away and diverging quickly. It traversed twice through transonic velocities – the most difficult control region – during the acceleration burn and subsequent deceleration. The capsule then coasted, stabilized by reaction control thrusters, until it started descending. Its three drogue parachutes deployed near the top of its flight path, followed shortly thereafter by main parachutes.
The capsule’s escape motor slammed the booster with 70,000 pounds of off-axis force delivered by searing hot exhaust. The aerodynamic shape of the vehicle quickly changed from leading with the conical capsule to leading with the ring fin, and this all happened at Max Q.
The booster was not explicitly engineered to survive an in-flight escape. The fact that the booster survived the escape, climbed to apogee and returned to execute its fifth controlled vertical landing is testament to the overall robustness inherent in its design.
New Shepard In-flight Escape Test
On October 5, 2016, New Shepard performed an in-flight test of the capsule’s full-envelope escape system, designed to quickly propel the crew capsule to safety if a problem is detected with the booster. At T+0:45 and 16,053 feet (4,893 meters), the capsule separated and the escape motor fired, pushing the capsule safely away from the booster. Reaching an apogee of 23,269 feet (7,092 meters), the capsule then descended under parachutes to a gentle landing on the desert floor. After the capsule escape, the booster continued its ascent, reaching an apogee of 307,458 feet (93,713 meters). At T+7:29, the booster executed a controlled, vertical landing back at the West Texas Launch Site, completing its fifth and final mission.
Replay of In-flight Escape Test Live Webcast
Live webcast of New Shepard in-flight escape test.
New Shepard Capsule Escape Animation
Like Mercury, Apollo, and Soyuz, New Shepard has an escape system that can quickly propel the crew capsule to safety if a problem is detected with the booster. Our escape system, however, pushes rather than pulls and is mounted underneath the capsule rather than on a tower. The escape motor vectors thrust to steer the capsule to the side, out of the booster’s path. The capsule then coasts, stabilized by reaction control thrusters, until it starts descending. Its three drogue parachutes deploy near the top of its flight path, followed shortly thereafter by main parachutes. On a nominal mission, the escape motor is not expended and can be flown again and again.
Flight Four – One Chute Out
New Shepard flew again on June 19, 2016, reaching an apogee of 331,504 feet (101.042 kilometers). It was the fourth flight with this booster and the sixth flight of this capsule. This time, we intentionally did not deploy one of three parachutes on the capsule and proved we could softly land with only two of them open. We’ve designed the capsule to have one or two levels of redundancy in every system needed for crew safety, including the separation systems, parachutes, reaction control thrusters, landing retro-thrusters, flight computers, and power systems. We also changed the ascending trajectory of the booster to adopt a more aggressive tilt towards our landing pad to the north after liftoff. We did this maneuver to test the ascent trajectory we will use during Transonic Escape Test, planned for later this year. During Transonic Escape Test, we will intentionally fire the capsule’s solid-rocket escape motor in-flight at transonic speeds to divert and propel it away from a fully thrusting booster and demonstrate we can safely recover the capsule.
Replay of Flight 4 Live Webcast
Replay of live webcast of New Shepard flight four of same hardware.
Microgravity Experiment on Dust Environments in Astrophysics-B (MEDEA-B)
A payload from Technische Universität Braunschweig (Braunschweig University in Germany) designed to better understand the dynamics of dust collisions in the early solar system is flying aboard the next flight of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle. Principal Investigator: Dr. Jürgen Blum
This research is supported by Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) under grant 50WM1536.
Effective Interfacial Tension Induced Convection (EITIC)
A payload developed jointly between Louisiana State University and William Jewell College to study gradient-driven fluid flow in the absence of convection is flying aboard the next flight of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle. Principal Investigators: Dr. John Pojman and Dr. Patrick Bunton
Three-Dimensional Critical Wetting Experiment in Microgravity (3D WETTING)
A Purdue University experiment designed to study the shapes fluids take in microgravity is flying aboard the next flight of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle. Principal Investigator: Dr. Steven Collicott
Flight 3: GH2 Vent Cam
Video from our New Shepard flight on April 2, 2016 showing flight of the booster from just ahead of reentry through descent and landing. Video is from the GH2 vent camera located just below the booster’s ring fin.
Flight Three: Pushing the Envelope
New Shepard flew again on April 2, 2016 reaching an apogee of 339,178 feet or 103 kilometers. It was the third flight with the same hardware. We pushed the envelope on this flight, restarting the engine for the propulsive landing only 3,600 feet above the ground, requiring the BE-3 engine to start fast and ramp to high thrust fast.
Collisions Into Dust Experiment (COLLIDE)
A University of Central Florida experiment designed to mimic impacts between objects in microgravity is flying aboard the next flight of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle. Principal Investigator: Dr. Joshua Colwell
Box of Rocks Experiment (BORE)
A Southwest Research Institute experiment designed to better understand the rocky soil on small, near-Earth asteroids is flying aboard the next flight of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle. Principal Investigator: Dr. Dan Durda
Launch. Land. Repeat.
Our vision: millions of people living and working in space. You can’t get there by throwing the hardware away. Watch the re-flight!
What 400 Very Happy Rocket Scientists Look Like
Historic Rocket Landing
Blue Origin HQ
November 23, 2015
Historic Rocket Landing
Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas.
Blue Origin To Launch from Cape Canaveral
Blue Origin announces that it will manufacture and fly its orbital launch vehicle from the historic shores of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Highlights from Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle as it makes its first developmental test flight.
Long distance tracking of Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle as it makes its first flight, carrying its crew capsule to 307,000 feet and returning it safely to Earth.
The human need to explore is deep within all of us. From the expeditions of our ancestors to modern-day adventures, we live in a unique time in which we can pioneer new horizons. At Blue Origin, we believe now is the time to open the promise of space to all. Because Earth—in all its beauty—is just our starting point.
Blue Origin Astronaut Experience
Blue Origin’s two veteran astronauts provide a firsthand account of what it feels like to soar to space on Blue Origin’s rocket and return to Earth forever changed.
Soar with Blue Origin
Blue Origin offers the adventure of a lifetime with a historic rocket experience that re-creates the sights, sounds and sensations experienced by the great early space pioneers.
Music by: Natalee Lence with Giles Reaves and Stephen Nelson
United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin Announce Partnership To Develop New American Rocket Engine
United Launch Alliance (ULA), the nation’s premier space launch company, and Blue Origin, LLC, a privately-funded aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, announced today that they have entered into an agreement to jointly fund development of the new BE-4 rocket engine by Blue Origin. This new collaboration will allow ULA to maintain the heritage, success and reliability of its rocket families – Atlas and Delta – while addressing the long-term need for a new domestic engine.
Blue Origin Debuts BE-3 Hydrogen Engine
Blue Origin reached a key milestone in the development of the liquid-fueled BE-3 engine by successfully demonstrating deep throttle, full power, long-duration and reliable restart all in a single-test sequence.
Great Day in West Texas
Pad Escape video
Flight Test - Goddard Low-Altitude Mission - Launch
Video of launch. Maximum altitude was about 285 feet.
Flight Test - Goddard Low-Altitude Mission - Gear
This on-board video shows a landing gear and a thruster.
Flight Test - Goddard Low-Altitude Mission - Horizon View
On-board video pointed at the horizon.
Flight Test - Goddard Low-Altitude Mission - Wide Angle
Low frame rate but high resolution fisheye video of the launch (no sound).
Flight Test - Goddard Low-Altitude Mission - Pad
On-board video pointed straight down at the pad.