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Blue Origin Successfully Flies New Shepard Suborbital Vehicle

New Shepard propulsion module

WASHINGTON — Blue Origin announced Nov. 24 that it launched its New Shepard suborbital vehicle on a second test flight, flying to the edge of space and successfully landing both sections of the vehicle.

New Shepard launched from the company’s West Texas test site at 12:21 p.m. Eastern time Nov. 23, reaching a peak altitude of 100.5 kilometers and top speed of Mach 3.72. The vehicle’s unoccupied crew capsule separated and parachuted to a landing, while its propulsion module made a powered vertical landing.

The test was similar to one flown in April, where the vehicle reached a peak altitude of more than 93 kilometers. On that earlier test, however, a hydraulic problem with the propulsion module prevented it from making a controlled landing.

“This flight validates our vehicle architecture and design,” Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said in a statement accompanying the announcement of the flight. That includes fins and drag brakes that steer and slow down the propulsion module before its main engine reignites for the final landing sequence.

Both modules of New Shepard are designed to be reused. “Full reuse is a game changer, and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again,” Bezos said in the statement. The company did not states when they next plan to fly the vehicle.

The company did not announce the test flight in advance, and did not issue a statement about it until 18 hours after it took place. However, in recent weeks company officials have stated that they planned to conduct a test flight of New Shepard before the end of the year.

The successful flight keeps Blue Origin on track to begin commercial flights of research payloads by the middle of 2016. The vehicle is also designed to carry people, but the company has not disclosed a timetable for crewed flights.

Source: Space News

Blue Origin Successfully Flies New Shepard Suborbital Vehicle

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