NASA Funds Flight for Space Medical Technology on Blue Origin

New Shepard capsule after landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

VAN HORN, Texas (NASA PR) — Blue Origin successfully launched its New Shepard reusable space vehicle on Dec. 12 carrying a medical technology that could potentially treat chest trauma in a space environment.

The New Shepard reusable vertical takeoff and vertical landing space vehicle was launched with the experimental technology from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site.  In addition to NASA funding non-government researchers to fly payloads, Blue Origin is a Flight Opportunities program launch provider for government payloads. The Flight Opportunities program, is managed under NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

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Video of Mannequin Skywalker’s Flight Aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard

Video Caption: Footage taken from onboard cameras. Full mission recap:

New Shepard flew again for the seventh time on Dec. 12, 2017, from Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site. Known as Mission 7 (M7), the mission featured the next-generation booster and the first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0. Crew Capsule 2.0 features large windows, measuring 2.4 feet wide, 3.6 feet tall. M7 also included 12 commercial, research and education payloads onboard. Crew Capsule 2.0 reached an apogee of 322,405 feet AGL/326,075 feet MSL (98.27 kilometers AGL/99.39 kilometers MSL). The booster reached an apogee of 322,032 feet AGL/325,702 feet MSL (98.16 kilometers AGL/99.27 kilometers MSL).

Embry-Riddle Research Payloads Flew Aboard New Shepard

New Shepard capsule after landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Embry-Riddle experiments in space could help with cancer treatment

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ­(Embry-Riddle PR) — For less than four minutes at the edge of space, T-cells from mice in an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University experiment in partnership with the University of Texas Health Science Center and the Medical University of South Carolina were exposed to microgravity onboard a successful Blue Origin launch in the hope of one day finding new treatments for cancer.

The payload from Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus flew Dec. 12 on Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle to assess how microgravity impacts the cellular processes of T-cells or T-lymphocytes, which develop from stem cells in the bone marrow and are key to the immune system.

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Blue Origin New Shepard Flight Included Mannequin Skywalker

Mannequin Skywalker — an instrumented test dummy — flew aboard the New Shepard capsule. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin’s New Shepard flight included an instrumented test dummy dubbed Mannequin Skywalker — a nod to the Star Wars moving coming out this week and a prelude to tests with human occupants that could begin next year.

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NanoRacks Integrates Largest New Shepard Payload Manifest to Date

New Shepard capsule after landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

VAN HORN, Texas, December 8, 2017 (NanoRacks PR)– NanoRacks is pleased to have taken part in yet another successful Blue Origin New Shepard space vehicle mission. This morning marked New Shepard’s 7th flight, and the third flight in which NanoRacks has managed customer payload integration.
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Details on Blue Origin New Shepard Flight

Crew Capsule 2.0 after a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

New Shepard Mission 7 Test Flight
Mission Fact Sheet

Mission Overview

New Shepard flew again for the seventh time on Dec. 12, 2017, from Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site. Known as Mission 7 (M7), the mission featured the next-generation booster and the first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0.

  • Crew Capsule 2.0 features large windows, measuring 2.4 feet wide, 3.6 feet tall.
  • M7 also included 12 commercial, research and education payloads onboard.

M7 Mission Details

  • Launch time: 10:59 a.m. CST
  • Booster Apogee
    • o 322,032 feet (AGL) (98.16 kilometers)
    • 325,702 feet (MSL) (99.27 kilometers)
  • Crew Capsule 2.0 Apogee
    • 322,405 feet (AGL) (98.27 kilometers)
    • 326,075 feet (MSL) (99.39 kilometers)
  • Maximum ascent velocity: Mach 2.94
  • Booster maximum descent velocity: Mach 3.74
  • Booster re-ignition: 3,716 feet (AGL)
  • Controlled vertical landing of Booster: 6.75 mph
  • Deployment of Crew Capsule 2.0 drogue parachutes: 6,463 feet (AGL)
  • Landing of Crew Capsule 2.0 under parachutes: 11:10 a.m. CST
  • Total mission elapsed time: 10 minutes and 6 seconds

Video of Blue Origin New Shepard Flight

Video Caption: New Shepard flew again for the seventh time on Dec. 12, 2017, from Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site. Known as Mission 7 (M7), the mission featured the next-generation booster and the first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0.

Crew Capsule 2.0 features large windows, measuring 2.4 feet wide, 3.6 feet tall. M7 also included 12 commercial, research and education payloads on board.

Crew Capsule 2.0 reached an apogee of 322,405 feet AGL/326,075 feet MSL (98.27 kilometers AGL/99.39 kilometers MSL). The booster reached an apogee of 322,032 feet AGL/325,702 feet MSL (98.16 kilometers AGL/99.27 kilometers MSL).

Editor’s Note:  Jeff Bezos tweeted that an instrumented test dummy was on board the spacecraft.

Blue Origin Scrubs for the Day

New Shepard in flight (Credit: Blue Origin)

Report indicates that Blue Origin scrubbed the launch of its upgraded New Shepard rocket and capsule this afternoon. The flight had been set for 1 p.m. EST (12 p.m. CST), then was pushed back an hour before being scrubbed. The uncrewed suborbital capsule is set to carry experiments.

No word on the cause of the scrub or when the flight might be rescheduled at Blue Origin’s test site near Van Horn, Texas. The company has issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) to stay clear of the area during potential flight hours through Thursday.

This will be the first launch of a New Shepard suborbital system since October 2015. A new booster and spacecraft have been built incorporating upgrades based on lessons learned from the earlier series of six launches.

Blue Origin Plans New Shepard Flight Next Week

The New Shepard capsule separates from its booster as the abort motor fires. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin has issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) for Dec. 11 through 14 (Monday through Thursday) covering its rocket test site near Van Horn, Texas.

A source tells Parabolic Arc the company will be testing an upgraded version of its suborbital New Shepard booster and capsule with scientific experiments aboard. The spacecraft will have real windows (the ones on the previous capsule were painted on) but is not intended for human flight.

The reusable New Shepard system has launched six times from its West Texas test site. On five occasions, both the booster and the spacecraft landed safely after exceeding the Karman line at 100 km (62 miles). The booster on the first flight crashed while attempting a landing. The capsule landed safely after reaching an altitude of 93.5 km (58 miles).

The most recent New Shepard flight was a test of the capsule’s abort system in October 2016. The spacecraft blasted away from the booster in mid-flight; both vehicles landed safely and were subsequently retired.

Blue Origin Partners With PARC to Accelerate Space R&D

New Shepard in flight (Credit: Blue Origin)

PALO ALTO, CA, Dec. 05, 2017 (PARC PR) — PARC, a Xerox company, today announced its partnership with Blue Origin to enhance awareness and interest in the vast possibilities made possible by conducting R&D in space. The partnership will leverage PARC’s expertise in technology innovation and Blue Origin’s reusable suborbital rocket, New Shepard, to push new frontiers in four areas of technology R&D: advanced manufacturing, energy systems, human-machine interaction, and predictive analytics.

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A Niche in Time: First Flight

Richard Branson addresses the crowd before SpaceShipTwo’s glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Part 5 of 5

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The morning of Dec. 3, 2016, began like so many others in Mojave. The first rays of dawn gave way to a brilliant sunrise that revealed a cloudless, clear blue sky over California’s High Desert.

This was hardly newsworthy. For most of the year, Mojave doesn’t really have weather, just temperatures and wind speeds. It had been literally freezing overnight; the mercury was at a nippy 28º F (-2.2º C) at 4 a.m. As for Mojave’s famous winds – an enemy of roofs, trees and big rigs, but the lifeblood of thousands of wind turbines that cover the landscape west of town – there really weren’t any. It was basically a flat calm.

In other words, it was a perfect day to fly.

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Bezos vs. Branson: Who is Winning the Race to Space?

SpaceShipTwo dumps water. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Clive Irving, senior consulting editor at Condé Nast Traveler, believes that Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin have zoomed ahead of Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic.

In his story, “Jeff Bezos Will Leave Richard Branson Behind in the Dust,” he writes

Let’s face it: by any rational measure so-called space tourism is a preposterously frivolous idea. Nonetheless, hundreds of thrill-seekers were willing to pay around $2,300 a minute for the ride as soon as Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture was launched in 2005. The first passenger-carrying flight was supposed to happen 10 years ago, in 2007. It slipped to 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013…now…maybe… next year.

But if once it seemed like an idea whose time would never come (leaving aside for the moment the issue of whether it ever should) Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin team—not Branson—now seems more than ever likely to be the first to deliver….

Whereas Branson over the years staged numerous junkets for the media in which success was claimed to be imminent, this April Bezos staged his first preview of the ride on Blue Shepard at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs with the warning that, “It’s a mistake to race to a deadline when you’re talking about a flying vehicle, especially one that you’re going to put people on.”

[….]

In less than a year of testing, Bezos has been able to do something that Branson has failed to do in more than a decade: demonstrate proof of concept….

Technically, New Shepard is the precursor of the much more ambitious New Glenn, Blue Origin’s multi-stage rocket program that will launch astronauts and satellites into orbit. (The Virgin Galactic design is an evolutionary dead end – it cannot be scaled up for orbital flight.) As he did with Amazon, Bezos has always had a very clear-eyed idea of what it would cost to get into the business, of the technical challenges, and of the time needed to master them.

It’s a good story that’s worth a read. I did notice one factual error: the tail stall and inverted spin that SpaceShipTwo experienced during a flight test occurred in 2011, not 2013.

Bezos Funding Blue Origin by Selling $1 Billion in Amazon Stock Annually

New Shepard crew capsule (Credit: Blue Origin)

This week, Jeff Bezos revealed how he is funding Blue Origins, when human flights on New Shepard will begin, and the approximate cost of developing the New Glenn launch vehicle.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos said on Wednesday he is selling about $1 billion worth of the internet retailer’s stock annually to fund his Blue Origin rocket company, which aims to launch paying passengers on 11-minute space rides starting next year.

Blue Origin had hoped to begin test flights with company pilots and engineers in 2017, but that probably will not happen until next year, Bezos told reporters at the annual U.S. Space Symposium in Colorado Springs….

Blue Origin is developing a second launch system to carry satellites, and eventually people, into orbit, similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule.

Development costs for that system, known as New Glenn, will be about $2.5 billion.

Read the full story.

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Blue Origin’s New Shepard Wins Prestigious Collier Trophy

BE-3 restarted at 3,635 feet above ground level and ramped fast for a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

WASHINGTON, DC (NAA PR) — The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced last evening at their Spring Awards Dinner that the Blue Origin New Shepard has been named as the recipient of the 2016 Robert J. Collier Trophy “… for successfully demonstrating rocket booster reusability with the New Shepard human spaceflight vehicle through five successful test flights of a single booster and engine, all of which performed powered vertical landings on Earth.”

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Sneak Peek at New Shepard Crew Capsule

New Shepard capsule interior (Credit: Blue Origin)

Our New Shepard flight test program is focused on demonstrating the performance and robustness of the system. In parallel, we’ve been designing the capsule interior with an eye toward precision engineering, safety, and comfort. Here’s a sneak peek.

New Shepard crew capsule (Credit: Blue Origin)
New Shepard crew capsule (Credit: Blue Origin)
New Shepard (Credit: Blue Origin)

If you happen to be attending the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs April 3-6, come see this for yourself. The high-fidelity capsule mockup will be on display alongside the New Shepard reusable booster that flew to space and returned five times.

Jeff Bezos