The New Shepard is a manned suborbital reusable launch system with vertical take-off that is being developed by Blue Origin. Today, the company of multimillionaire Jeff Bezos, boss of Amazon, has just taken an important step to send astronauts into space.
The space exploration company led by Bezos has just successfully launched its New Shepard rocket at the test base in Texas.
Blue Origin successfully launches the New Shepard rocket
Jeff Bezos' company is a direct competitor of Elon Musk's SpaceX. Although Blue Origin is lagging behind what SpaceX has achieved, in the future they will fight side by side for space projects, either in the exploration of the Moon, or in going to Mars.
Although this was the 13th successful launch of the rocket, it was the inaugural NS-4 flight of the company, a upgraded crew capsule with six seats, display panels and temperature controls. A human-sized mannequin has already traveled inside the capsule, collecting the most varied data from the launch.
The rocket, with the mannequin “Mannequin Skywalker”, which occupied one of the six available seats, took off at a height of 107 km, well above the Karman line, the agreed limit that is at an altitude of 100 km above sea level.
Several minutes after takeoff, the rocket booster landed successfully and with incredible accuracy. It stabilized in the air, controlled the speed of descent and landed on four extended legs, reminiscent of the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. The capsule, designed to one day transport tourists into space, made a smoother return, aided by three large parachutes.
The New Shepard rocket has been under construction for a long time. According to company information, the rocket entered its seventh year of unmanned flight tests. Incidentally, manned flights are not expected to take place until 2022. Taking into account what we have already mentioned, its biggest competitor, SpaceX, was much more lucky, delivering its first astronauts to space in August 2020.
Next stop: Lua
While iterative in certain ways, today's launch lays the foundation for Blue Origin's much more ambitious effort: landing astronauts on the moon.
As it was possible to follow, New Shepard used the BE-3 rocket engine powered by liquid hydrogen and oxygen. Two vacuum-optimized versions of these engines will take Blue Origin's orbital launch vehicle, New Glenn, which is due to make its debut later this year, as reported NASA Spaceflight.
The company's BE-7 engine, which is currently being tested, uses the same fuel as the BE-3 and was designed to be used in Blue Origin's Blue Moon lunar module. The company delivered a full-scale prototype to NASA in August.