Tenth successful rocket test flight for Blue Origin
The number of Blue Origin rocket flights went into double digits today as the company's New Shepard booster completed its 10th suborbital mission (NS-10). At 9:05 am CST, the rocket lifted off under clear, cold skies from the Blue Origin Texas test site with a payload of eight scientific payloads in its capsule, which was lofted to an altitude of 350,775 ft (66 mi, 107 km) during the 11-minute flight.
Today's flight was the fourth for this particular New Shepard reusable booster. The single-stage launcher was powered into space by a BE3 engine that burned for about two minutes and 20 seconds before shutdown. The capsule separated 20 seconds later and continued to coast at a maximum velocity of 2,226 mph (3,582 km/h).
During this time, the booster and capsule were in a state of weightlessness as they essentially fell "up." After reaching apogee, the pair fell back to Earth with the booster guiding itself down with its wedge fins before restarting its engine at the seven-minute mark for a perfect powered landing. Meanwhile, the capsule deployed its parachutes and touched down three minutes and 50 seconds later.
Meanwhile, experimental payloads aboard did their bit. These included a way to measure fuel levels in microgravity by using sound waves, a platform to separate payloads from spacecraft vibrations, a device for monitoring the Earth's magnetic field, an instrument cooling experiment, an environmentally friendly rocket propellant, a study of how regolith particles behave in zero gravity, and a telemetric imaging system for biological experiments.
On Instagram, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said, "A perfect day. New Shepard has now racked up 10 consecutive successful launches, 9 consecutive successful booster landings, 3 consecutive successful escape tests, and 11 consecutive successful crew capsule landings (including a pad escape). Today's mission was the 4th flight of this particular tail number – all with minimal refurbishment between flights. Step by step, we're getting close to human flight. And all of this learning is being incorporated into New Glenn too. I did wear my lucky boots today, but I'm pretty sure it's actually the incredible @BlueOrigin team."
The video below is a recap of the launch live feed.
Source: Blue Origin