Blue Origin's New Shepard completes 14th flight, with improved capsule
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket has successfully completed its 14th flight. On January 14, 2021, at 11:20 am CST (17:20 GMT), mission NS-14 lifted off from Launch Site One in West Texas on a suborbital trajectory, with an improved crew capsule containing a dummy astronaut named Anakin Skywalker.
This Thursday's flight came after a hold at T Minus 12 minutes, as ground teams worked to synchronize their activities. The rocket then lifted off autonomously without any major problems. During the 10-minute and 10-second mission, the booster reached an altitude of 347,211 feet (105 km) above ground level and 350,858 ft (106 km) above sea level, with a maximum velocity of 2,242 mph (3,609 km/h).
When the crew capsule was released, inertia carried it to an altitude of 347,568 ft (105 km) above ground or 351,215 ft (107 km) above sea level. After separation, the rocket fell back into the Earth's atmosphere and returned for a powered landing at the launch site using aerodynamic and thruster guidance. The crew capsule soft-landed a few minutes later in the desert, after descending by parachute.
The main objectives of NS-14 were to continue testing of the New Shepard booster and its BE-3PM liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine, as well as the improved crew capsule. The latter now has speakers in the cabin and a microphone with a push-to-talk button on each of the six seats, that allows each passenger to speak directly to mission control.
There is also a crew alert system to keep the passengers updated with safety messages, along with cushioned wall linings and sound suppression to cut down noise and vibration; an improved environmental system for scrubbing carbon dioxide from the air; plus temperature and humidity regulators for comfort, and to prevent the windows from fogging up.
The company says that the capsule also carried a payload of 50,000 postcards from Blue Origin’s nonprofit Club for the Future.
The video below recaps NS-14.
Source: Blue Origin