Blue Origin pushes the envelope to complete 9th test flight
A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket has lifted off from the company's launch site on its ninth test flight in the run up to carrying paying passengers. At 10:11 am CDT on July 18, the booster and its unmanned Crew Capsule thundered into the sky above Texas on a mission to see how well the launch system operates on the edge of its engineering envelope.
According to Blue Origin, today's flight lasted only 11 min and 17 sec, but that was long enough for the single-stage rocket with its BE3 engine to deliver the capsule to the edge of space, with the capsule igniting its emergency escape system 20 seconds after stage separation.
The solid rocket motor generated 70,000 lb of thrust and hit the "Mannequin Skywalker" test dummy in the pilot's couch with an acceleration of 10 Gs. This shot the capsule to a maximum altitude of 389,846 ft (118,825m) – a new Blue Origin record – and a velocity of 2,236 mph (Mach 3, 3,598 km/h).
The purpose of Mission 9 (M9) was to confirm that the New Shepard rocket would survive an emergency abort while operating at the edge of its design parameters, and still make a landing, which on the day came off without any major problems.
The other goal was to test the attitude control system in the capsule while in the near-vacuum of space. According to Blue Origin, no obvious problems were encountered and the capsule was able to correctly orient itself to deploy its parachutes.
Though the Crew Capsule carried no passengers, aside from Mannequin Skywalker, it contained seven commercial payloads. These included an experiment to study granular gases, a NASA device to record the capsule's interior environment, another experiment to study the condensation of droplets in zero gravity, an electromagnetic field monitor, a platform to isolate payloads from rocket vibrations, a materials sample package, and a company internal payload.
The video below is a recap of the live mission feed.
Source: Blue Origin