New Shepard's maiden flight on 29 April 2015
|Function||Suborbital launch vehicle|
|Country of origin||USA|
|Payload to Kármán line||unknown|
|Launch sites||Corn Ranch|
|First flight||29 April 2015|
|Thrust||490 kN (110,000 lbf)|
|Burn time||110 seconds|
|Fuel||LH2 / LOX|
The New Shepard reusable launch system is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL), suborbital manned rocket that is being developed by Blue Origin as a commercial system for suborbital space tourism. Blue Origin is owned by Amazon.com founder and businessman Jeff Bezos.
The name New Shepard makes reference to the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts, who ascended to space on a suborbital trajectory similar to that planned for New Shepard.
Prototype engine and vehicle flights began in 2006, while full-scale engine development started in the early 2010s and was complete by 2015. Unmanned test flights of the complete New Shepard vehicle (propulsion module and space capsule) began in 2015. Flights with test passengers are planned for no earlier than 2017, with commercial flights to begin as early as 2018.
On 23 November 2015, after reaching 100.5 km (330,000 ft) altitude (outer space), the New Shepard booster successfully performed a powered vertical soft landing, the first time a booster rocket had returned from space to make a successful vertical landing. Three additional test flights were made with the same vehicle in the first six months of 2016.
- 1 History
- 2 Design
- 3 Mission
- 4 Development
- 5 NASA suborbital research payloads
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The first development vehicle of the New Shepard development program was a sub-scale demonstration vehicle named Goddard, built in 2006 following earlier engine development efforts by Blue Origin. Goddard made its first flight on 13 November 2006.
The Goddard launch vehicle was assembled at the Blue Origin facility near Seattle, Washington. Also in 2006, Blue Origin started the process to build an aerospace testing and operations center on a portion of the Corn Ranch, a 165,000-acre (668 km2) land parcel Bezos purchased 40 kilometers (25 mi) north of Van Horn, Texas. Blue Origin Project Manager Rob Meyerson has said that they selected Texas as the launch site particularly because of the state's historical connections to the aerospace industry, although that industry is not located near the planned launch site, and the vehicle will not be manufactured in Texas.
On the path to developing New Shepard, a crew capsule was also needed, and design was begun on a space capsule in the early 2000s. One development milestone along the way became public. On 19 October 2012, Blue Origin conducted a successful Pad Escape a full-scale suborbital Crew Capsule at its West Texas launch site. For the test, the capsule fired its pusher escape motor and launched from a launch vehicle simulator. The Crew Capsule traveled to an altitude of 2,307 ft (703 m) under active thrust vector control before descending safely by parachute to a soft landing 1,630 ft (500 m) downrange.
In April 2015, Blue Origin announced that they had completed acceptance testing of the BE-3 engine that would power the larger New Shepard vehicle. Blue also announced that they intended to begin test flights of the New Shepard later in 2015, with initial flights occurring as frequently as monthly, with "a series of dozens of flights over the extent of the suborbital test program [taking] a couple of years to complete." The same month, the FAA announced that the regulatory paperwork for the test program had already been filed and approved, and test flights were expected to begin before mid-May 2015.
By February 2016, three New Shepard vehicles had been built. The first was lost in a test in April 2015, the second had flown twice (see below), and the third was completing manufacture at the Blue factory in Kent, Washington.
New Shepard flight test program
A multi-year program of flight tests was begun in 2015. The first flight of the full-scale New Shepard vehicle—NS1—was conducted on 29 April 2015 during which an altitude of 93.5 km (307,000 ft) was attained. While the test flight itself was deemed a success, and the capsule was successfully recovered via parachute landing, the booster stage landing crashed and was not recovered due to a failure of hydraulic pressure in the vehicle control system during the descent.
First vertical soft landing
After the loss of NS1, a second New Shepard vehicle was built, NS2. Its first flight, and the second test flight of New Shepard overall, was carried out on 23 November 2015, reaching 100.5 km (330,000 ft) altitude with successful recovery of both capsule and booster stage. The booster rocket successfully performed a powered vertical landing. This was the first such successful rocket vertical landing on Earth after travelling higher than 3,140 m (10,300 ft) that the McDonnell Douglas DC-XA achieved in the 1990s, and first after sending something into space. Jeff Bezos was quoted as saying that Blue Origin planned to use the same architecture of New Shepard for the booster stage of their orbital vehicle.
Second vertical soft landing
On 22 January 2016, Blue Origin successfully repeated the flight profile of the 23 November 2015 launch with the same New Shepard vehicle. New Shepard launched, reached a maximum altitude of 101.7 km (63.2 mi), and, after separation, both capsule and launch vehicle returned to the ground intact. This accomplishment demonstrated re-usability of New Shepard and a turnaround time of 61 days.
Third vertical soft landing
On 2 April 2016, the same New Shepard booster flew for a third time, reaching 339,178 feet (103.8km), before returning successfully.
Fourth vertical soft landing
The capsule returned once again under parachutes but, this time, did a test descent with only two parachutes before finishing with a brief pulse of retro rocket propulsion to slow the ground impact velocity to 3 mph (4.8 km/h). The two parachutes "slowed the descent to 23 mph, as opposed to the usual 16 mph with three parachutes". Crushable bumpers are used to further reduce the landing shock through energy-absorbing deformation.
Additional New Shepard vehicles after 2015
Several additional vehicles were under construction or planned as of March 2016. Following the first two New Shepherd vehicles which were flown in 2015, a third New Shepard has been built and was completing manufacture in Washington during March 2016. It was expected to be transported to the test site in Texas soon thereafter.
"Several other New Shepard vehicles are under construction at Blue Origin’s headquarters. The company plans to initially build [a total of] six of the vehicles, which take 9 to 12 months to construct, and then, after completing an extensive test flight program, let the demand for space tourism and research determine how many additional vehicles may be needed."
The New Shepard is a fully-reusable, vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) space vehicle composed of two principal parts: a pressurized crew capsule and a booster rocket that Blue Origin calls a propulsion module. The basic concept is similar to the Chrysler SERV proposal of the late 1960s.[original research?] The New Shepard is controlled entirely by on-board computers, without ground control or a human pilot.
The pressurized crew capsule can carry six persons, and supports a "full-envelope" launch escape system that can separate the capsule from the booster rocket anywhere during the ascent. Interior volume of the capsule is 15 cubic meters (530 cu ft).
The New Shepard propulsion module is powered using a Blue Origin BE-3 bipropellant rocket engine burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, although some early development work was done by Blue Origin on engines operating with other propellants: the BE-1 engine using monopropellant hydrogen peroxide; and the BE-2 engine using high-test peroxide oxidizer and RP-1 kerosene fuel.
The New Shepard is launched vertically from West Texas and then performs a powered flight for about 110 s and to an altitude of 40 km (130,000 ft). The craft's momentum carries it upward in unpowered flight as the vehicle slows, culminating at an altitude of about 100 km (330,000 ft). After reaching apogee the vehicle would perform a descent and restart its main engines a few tens of seconds before vertical landing, close to its launch site. The total mission duration is planned to be 10 minutes.
The manned variant would feature a separate crew module that could separate close to peak altitude, and the propulsion module would perform a powered landing while the crew module would land under a parachute. The crew module can also separate in case of vehicle malfunction or other emergency using solid propellant separation boosters and perform a parachute landing.
As of March 2016, New Shepard is in the midst of a two-year long test program. Unmanned flights began in 2015 and will continue into 2017. Blue has plans to test the vehicle with "test passengers" for the first time in 2017, and commercial flights are slated to begin "as early as 2018."
Initial low altitude flight testing (up to 600 m) with subscale prototypes of the New Shepard was scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2006. This was later confirmed to have occurred in November 2006 in a press release by Blue Origin. The prototype flight test program could involve up to ten flights. Incremental flight testing to 100 km altitude was planned to be carried out between 2007 and 2009 with increasingly larger and more capable prototypes. The full-scale vehicle was initially expected to be operational for revenue service as early as 2010, though that goal was not met and the first full-scale test flight of a New Shepard vehicle was successfully completed 2015, with commercial service currently aimed for (as of March 2016) no earlier than 2018. The vehicle could fly up to 50 times a year. Clearance from the FAA was needed before test flights began, and a separate license is needed before commercial operations begin. Blue held a public meeting on 15 June 2006 in Van Horn, as part of the public comment opportunity needed to secure FAA permissions. Blue Origin projected in 2006 that once cleared for commercial operation, they would expect to conduct a maximum rate of 52 launches per year from West Texas. The RLV would carry three or more passengers per operation.
Prototype test vehicle
|This section requires expansion. (April 2015)|
An initial flight test of a prototype vehicle took place on November 13, 2006 at 6:30 am local time (12:30 UTC); an earlier flight on the 10th being canceled due to winds. This marked the first developmental test flight undertaken by Blue Origin. The flight was by the first prototype vehicle, known as Goddard. The flight to 285 feet (87 m) in altitude was successful. Videos are available on the Blue Origin website and elsewhere.
Second test vehicle
The vehicle is known only as "PM2" as of August 2011, gleaned from information the company filed with the FAA prior to its late August high-altitude, high-velocity second test flight. Media have speculated this might mean "Propulsion Module".
The second test vehicle was flown a second time on an August 24, 2011 test flight, in west Texas. It failed when ground personnel lost contact and control of the vehicle. The company recovered remnants of the space craft from ground search. On 2 Sep 2011, Blue Origin released the results of the cause of the test vehicle failure. As the vehicle reached Mach 1.2 and 45,000 feet (14,000 m) altitude, a "flight instability drove an angle of attack that triggered [the] range safety system to terminate thrust on the vehicle."
Involvement with NASA Commercial Crew Development Program
Additionally, Blue Origin received US$3.7 million in CCDev phase 1 to advance several development objectives of its innovative 'pusher' Launch Abort System (LAS) and composite pressure vessel As of February 2011[update], with the end of the second ground test, Blue Origin completed all work envisioned under the phase 1 contract for the pusher escape system. They also "completed work on the other aspect of its award, risk reduction work on a composite pressure vessel" for the vehicle.
NASA suborbital research payloads
As of March 2011[update], Blue Origin had submitted the New Shepard reusable launch vehicle for use as an unmanned rocket for NASA's suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV) solicitation under NASA's Flight Opportunities Program. Blue Origin projects 100 km (330,000 ft) altitude in flights of approximately ten minutes duration, while carrying an 11.3 kg (25 lb) research payload. By March 2016, Blue noted that they are "due to start flying unaccompanied scientific payloads later [in 2016]."
||This "see also" section may contain an excessive number of suggestions. Please ensure that only the most relevant suggestions are given and that they are not red links, and consider integrating suggestions into the article itself. (May 2016)|
- Airbus Defence and Space Spaceplane
- XCOR Lynx
- Rocketplane XP
- DH-1 (rocket)
- McDonnell Douglas DC-X
- Lockheed Martin X-33
- Masten Space Systems
- Armadillo Aerospace
- Interorbital Systems
- Quad (rocket)
- Lunar Lander Challenge
- Reusable Vehicle Testing program by JAXA
- Project Morpheus NASA program to continue developing ALHAT and Quad landers
- Project BP-190
- SpaceX reusable launch system development program
- "sRLV platforms compared". NASA. 2011-03-07. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
New Shepard: Type: VTVL/Unpiloted
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- Foust, Jeff (13 April 2015). "Blue Origin’s suborbital plans are finally ready for flight". Retrieved 18 April 2015.
We’ve recently completed acceptance testing, meaning we’ve accepted the engine for suborbital flight on our New Shepard vehicle, [the end of a] very, very long development program [of] 450 test firings of the engine and a cumulative run time of more than 500 minutes. The completion of those tests sets the stage for Blue Origin to begin test flights of the vehicle later this year at its facility in West Texas [where they] expect a series of flight tests with this vehicle ... flying in autonomous mode.... We expect a series of dozens of flights over the extent of the test program [taking] a couple of years to complete.
- Foust, Jeff (2016-03-05). "Blue Origin plans growth spurt this year". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Blue Origin Makes Historic Rocket Landing". Blue Origin. 2015-11-24. Retrieved 24 Nov 2015.
- Amos, Jonathan (24 November 2015). "New Shepard: Bezos claims success on second spaceship flight". BBC News. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- "Blue Origin Flight Test Update". SpaceFellowship.com. 2007-01-02.
Our first objective is developing New Shepard, a vertical take-off, vertical-landing vehicle designed to take a small number of astronauts on a sub-orbital journey into space. On the morning of November 13, 2006, we launched and landed Goddard – a first development vehicle in the New Shepard program.
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- Foust, Jeff (24 November 2015). "Blue Origin Flies — and Lands — New Shepard Suborbital Spacecraft". Space News. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
We’re going to take that same exact architecture that was demonstrated and use it on our the booster stage of our orbital vehicle
- Foust, Jeff (2016-01-23). "Blue Origin reflies New Shepard suborbital vehicle". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
- Berger, Brian (2016-01-23). "Launch. Land. Repeat: Blue Origin posts video of New Shepard’s Friday flight". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
- Calandrelli, Emily (2016-04-02). "Blue Origin launches and lands the same rocket for a third time". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
- Grush, Loren (2016-06-19). "Blue Origin safely launches and lands the New Shepard rocket for a fourth time". Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Boyle, Alan (2016-07-20). "Jeff Bezos touts results from Blue Origin spaceship’s test, even with one less chute". GeekWire. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
- "Our Approach to Technology". Blue Origin. Blue Origin. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
The system consists of a pressurized capsule atop a booster. The combined vehicles launch vertically, accelerating for approximately two and a half minutes, before the engine cuts off. The capsule then separates from the booster to coast quietly into space. After a few minutes of free fall, the booster performs an autonomously controlled rocket-powered vertical landing, while the capsule lands softly under parachutes, both ready to be used again. Reusability allows us to fly the system again and again. ... The New Shepard capsule’s interior is ... 530 cubic feet—offering over 10 times the room Alan Shepard had on his Mercury flight. It seats six astronauts. Three independent parachutes [on the capsule] provide redundancy, while a retro-thrust system further cushions [the] landing. ... Full-envelope escape [system] is built around a solid rocket motor that provides 70,000 lb. of thrust in a two-second burn.
- Blue Origin, "Our Approach to Technology". Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- Morring, Frank Jr., "Blue Origin Developing Its Own Launch Vehicle", Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, Apr 30, 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
-  Archived May 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
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-  Archived March 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- Bezos, Jeff (2011-09-02). "Successful Short Hop, Set Back, and Next Vehicle". Letter. Blue Origin. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
- "Blue Origin has a bad day (and so do some of the media)". NewSpace Journal. 2011-09-02. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
- "Bezos-Funded Spaceship Misfires". Wall Street Journal. 2011-09-02. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
- Jeff Foust. "Blue Origin proposes orbital vehicle". Newspacejournal.com. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
- "CCDev awardees one year later: where are they now?". NewSpace Journal. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
- Blue Origin Official website
- Blue's Rocket Clues (MSNBC's Cosmic Log, June 24, 2006)
- Future & Fantasy Spaceships Primed for Launch Commercial, Orbital Spacecraft (See Page 6)
- Latest Blue Origin news on the Space Fellowship
- Secretive Spaceship Builder's Plans Hinted at in NASA Agreement Commercial Crew Development Blue Origin (2 New craft images)