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Blue Origin Completes Test Launch of New Horizons VTVL Vehicle

By | April 30, 2015
      Blue Origin New Shepard

      New Shepard’s developmental test flight. Photo: Blue Origin

      [Via Satellite 04-30-2015] On April 29, Blue Origin conducted the first developmental test flight of its New Shepard Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing (VTVL) space vehicle. New Shepard reached a planned test altitude of 307,000 feet, reaching a speed of Mach 3 using the liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen BE-3 engine, capable of 110,000-lbf. Blue Origin reported that guidance, navigation and control were nominal throughout max Q and all of ascent, and that the in-space separation of the crew capsule from the propulsion module occurred flawlessly.

      New Shepard is a reusable launch vehicle designed to carry astronauts and payloads to space. Work within Blue Origin’s suborbital vehicle program feeds directly into the company’s orbital program. During the test flight, Blue Origin was unable to recover the propulsion module due to a loss of pressure in New Shepard’s hydraulic system while descending. The company is developing an improved hydraulic system, and the assembly of propulsion module serial numbers two and three is already underway.

      “We continue to be big fans of the vertical takeoff, vertical landing architecture. We chose VTVL because it’s scalable to very large size. We’re already designing New Shepard’s sibling, her very big brother — an orbital launch vehicle that is many times New Shepard’s size and is powered by our 550,000-lbf thrust liquefied natural gas, liquid oxygen BE-4 engine,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin.