Blue Origin Completes Pad Abort Test (With Awesome Photos!)

Blue Origin’s pusher escape system rockets the New Shepard crew capsule away from the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) – Blue Origin conducted a successful Pad Escape test last week at its West Texas launch site, firing its pusher escape motor and launching a full-scale suborbital Crew Capsule from a launch vehicle simulator. The Crew Capsule traveled to an altitude of 2,307 feet under active thrust vector control before descending safely by parachute to a soft landing 1,630 feet downrange.

Blue Origin’s novel pusher escape system has been designed and developed to allow full-envelope crew escape in the event of an emergency on ascent for its suborbital New Shepard system.  As part of an incremental development program, the results of this test will inform the design of the escape system for its orbital Space Vehicle. Traditional tractor escape systems are not compatible with reuse. Blue Origin’s pusher escape system is a key enabler of full-vehicle reusability, as well as improving the safety of human access to space.

The New Shepard Crew Capsule escaped to an altitude of 2,307 feet before deploying parachutes for a safe return. (Credit: Blue Origin)

“The first test of our suborbital Crew Capsule is a big step on the way to safe, affordable space travel,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin. “This wouldn’t have been possible without NASA’s help, and the Blue Origin team worked hard and smart to design this system, build it, and pull off this test. Lots of smiles around here today. Gradatim Ferociter!”

Video of the test is available on the Blue Origin website.

Blue Origin is testing the pusher escape system in partnership with NASA under the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. As part of CCDev, Blue Origin earlier this year completed the System Requirements Review of its Space Vehicle, designed to provide safe, affordable transport of up to seven astronauts to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station, as well as a full-power test firing of the thrust chamber for its new 100,000 lbf BE-3 LOX/LH2 engine.


With touchdown 1,630 feet from the launch pad, Blue Origin completed a successful test of its Crew Capsule escape system. (Credit: Blue Origin)

About Blue Origin

Blue Origin, LLC (Blue Origin) is a private company developing vehicles and technologies to enable commercial human space transportation. Blue Origin has a long-term vision of greatly increasing the number of people that fly into space through low-cost, highly reliable commercial space transportation. For more information and a list of job openings, please visit us at

  • Utterly cool! (GM still will not be satisfied, but who cares…?)

  • botzy

    **WARNING** Incorrect usage of the word “awesome”.

    Dictionary robot suggests the following alternatives:


  • Death-defying? Nobody was on board.

    I like the alternatives, though.

  • Linsey Young

    Wow, footage of actual hardware being tested! I was beginning to think Blue Origin was just a purveyor of vaporware. Good to be proved wrong, awesome stuff.

  • Andy

    I estimated a touchdown velocity of 14-15 mph. Is that comparable to Soyuz touchdown or Apollo splashdown velocity? It seems a little fast to me.

  • Andy

    I redact my previous estimate. I think its closer to 13.5 mph (6 m/s).

  • Billish_Returns

    Er…the SSTO demonstrator they were testing blew up. This little rocket pod is their only current piece of hardware. How have you been proven wrong, exactly? Personally, I don’t see these guys going anywhere….besides which, nothing they were aiming for (and nothing SpaceX is doing with their Grasshopper, by the way) is even as capable as what the Government already did with the DC-X and Delta Clipper projects 15 years ago.