Outer Space, Sci/Tech

The Blue Origin Space Capsule Escape Test  

 

In the fifth flight of New Shepard, a space capsule by Blue Origin, it has successfully passed its “in-flight escape test”. In the test that was conducted in West Texas on October 5, despite expectations of failure from its owner Jeff Bezos, the rocket touched down successfully.

The Blue Origin is a private spaceflight company. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com is the owner of The Blue Origin. On October 5, using the New Shepard, the company conducted a critical “in-flight escape test” of its crew.

The test was held in a desert in West Texas at 11:36 a.m. EDT and about 45 seconds into flight, the capsule fired its “escape motor” for 2 seconds blasting itself away from the booster.

New Shepard is a space capsule that has two parts – a rocket and a capsule – that are reusable. This is named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard. The purpose of the space capsule to deliver people and scientific experiments to and from suborbital space.

Tough Trial

The Oct. 5 trial was the toughest trial yet. In October 2012, the company had launched the New Shepard in a “pad escape test”. The present trial forced the capsule to “traverse twice through transonic velocities — the most difficult control region — during the acceleration burn and subsequent deceleration,” Bezos wrote last month in a blog post about the present test.

Unexpected Result

The rocket landing was not as expected. Bezos had expected it to fail, writing that the “thrust from the escape motor would likely knock the booster off-kilter, causing it to crash and die in a massive fireball”. The Blue Origin launch commentator was just as surprised as Bezos as the rocket touched down.

For the particular New Shepard rocket, it is its final flight. Since November last year, the booster successfully landed five times after a space mission.

“If the booster does manage to survive this flight — its fifth — we will, in fact, reward it for its service with a retirement party and put it in a museum,” Bezos wrote.

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