Blue Origin Moves Closer to Human Flights with New Shepard Test

New Shepard booster over the landing pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — New Shepard flew for the ninth time on July 18, 2018. During this mission, known as Mission 9 (M9), the escape motor was fired shortly after booster separation.

The Crew Capsule was pushed hard by the escape test and we stressed the rocket to test that astronauts can get away from an anomaly at any time during flight. The mission was a success for both the booster and capsule. Most importantly, astronauts would have had an exhilarating ride and safe landing.

This isn’t the first time we’ve done this type of extreme testing on New Shepard. In October of 2012, we simulated a booster failure on the launch pad and had a successful escape.

New Shepard capsule parachutes to a safe landing (Credit: Blue Origin)

Then in October of 2016, we simulated a booster failure in-flight at Max Q, which is the most physically strenuous point in the flight for the rocket, and had a completely successful escape of the capsule.

This test on M9 allowed us to finally characterize escape motor performance in the near-vacuum of space and guarantee that we can safely return our astronauts in any phase of flight.

Also on M9, New Shepard carried science and research payloads from commercial companies, universities and space agencies. Learn more about the payloads on board here.

You can also view the full replay of M9 on YouTube.

Until our next test launch, Gradatim Ferociter!

  • Enrique Moreno

    “Exhilarating” XD

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Looking back on history and asking questions ….. Given how long it has taken Blue and Virgin to get as far as they have, and keeping in mind it has taken Blue on the order of a decade and a half to show signs of closing out the problem. …. The optimism level of the Space Access crowd was quite high now that we see what it has taken one team to go operational. I’m not saying this as a put down, only that these systems probably would not have gone forward without the enthusiasm of the Space Access crowd and the culture they spawned. I may be wrong here, but my memory is that they defined and declared this market as their goal from about 2005 on if memory serves. And I’ll add, I wanted to do small launch myself. I sure miss those conferences. But I think it’s a lesson in history about how difficult opening frontiers is and how even big money can’t make the cycle any shorter.

  • 76 er

    Have you ever heard the story of Beal Aerospace? Check out Beal-aerospace.com. I remember reading a newspaper story about the difficulties of them attempting to establish a spaceport in Guyana. The strongman in charge there wanted cash up-front! Yes, Bezos and Musk aren’t the only ones who’ve dreamed about the private launch market.

  • Emmet Ford

    The strongman in charge there wanted cash up-front!

    In hindsight, that was a wise demand. The strongman in Nevada should have demanded the same from Branson.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    Do you mean New Mexico?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I sure did. I followed him as close as I could in the press such as it was, and on the internet, such as it was. A real study of contrasts between him and Mr Musk. When Musk rolled out their BFS tool a few months ago, the first thing to come to mind was a article in “D” magazine that showed a similar tool that Beal was going to use. Comparing Elon to Beal is a great study in contrasts of what it takes to make it as a pioneer in the space launch business.

  • Emmet Ford

    Yeah, that is what I meant. I do get those two states mixed up.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Even worst the location that he wanted was also claimed by Venezuela and the locals didn’t recognize either governments claim to the area. I never understood why he just didn’t stay in Texas and make a deal with the state to use of old Matagorda AFB that the state took over in the 1980’s.

  • 76 er

    Hadn’t heard about that poker game. Anyway, here’s to new frontiers and the trail blazers, both successful and unsuccessful that pave the way.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    Thanks for the link. I thought I knew the Beal story, but there’s lots of good info on that site – including engine test video I’ve not seen before.

  • windbourne

    One thing that is weird is that Bezo is supposedly pushing 1B / year into BO. With that kind of money, they should have been done with this LONG AGO. Hopefully, Bezo has a bigger development program going than it appears. IOW, when new glenn comes, it will come with his lunar lander as well. If so, then it should be possible to use new glenn and falcon heavy to really get base building started on the moon. Then when BFR hits the market, musk will have plenty of launching to do.

  • Vladislaw

    He just made that announcement last year so that money is just entering the pipeline. I believe a chunk went for the factory sites he is working on.

  • Vladislaw

    Have you ever read Bezos high school graduation speech?

  • Vladislaw

    I thought he was trying to go around NASA when he stated it was impossible without a nasa green light?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    No, but if you’re calling attention to it, sounds like I should. I assume it’s easy to find.

  • windbourne

    ok. that makes sense.

  • envy

    Blue spent very little money for a long, long time. I think it took them almost 15 years to spend the first $1 billion. They only really started getting serious money a couple years ago. And that big factory cost $200 million.

  • windbourne

    cool. thanx./

  • Vladislaw

    “Bezos Sells $1 Billion a Year in Amazon Stock for Space Project
    By Spencer Soper April 5, 2017, 6:34 PM CDT”
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-05/bezos-hopes-big-windows-will-give-space-tourism-a-boost

    “Bezos Says He’ll Spend ‘Amazon Lottery Winnings’ on Space Travel
    By Amanda L Gordon and Tom Metcalf March 12, 2018, 5:00 AM CDT

    “The price of admission to space is very high,” Bezos said Saturday night in New York, accepting the Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner. “I’m in the process of converting my Amazon lottery winnings into a much lower price of admission so we can go explore the solar system.”

    “Bezos previously said he’s funding rocket company Blue Origin LLC to the tune of $1 billion a year through the sale of Amazon stock. His comments at the event suggest that may be only the start of his financial commitment to the project, which is developing reusable rockets. His net worth is $131 billion, with $125 billion of that in Amazon stock — and that “keeps on going up,” his mom, Jackie Bezos, said during the cocktail hour. His fortune has grown more than any other on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index this year.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-12/bezos-says-he-ll-spend-amazon-lottery-winnings-on-space-travel

  • Zed_WEASEL

    I think we already seen one of Blue Origin’s lander concepts. Remove the aerodynamic elements from the top and bottom of the New Sheppard booster. Added a cargo module with an emergency ascent module and you have a medium class manned Lunar lander. Of course such a lander will required a hoist to get to the Lunar surface easily.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Someone told him that and he believed it, so he went looking for a launch site outside the U.S. because of it. In short he had really bad advice on space law.