Sunday, June 19, 2016

Blue Skies

Click the arrow to watch highlight clips from today's Blue Origin test flight. Video source: Blue Origin YouTube channel.

Blue Origin today flew in west Texas its four test of its New Shepard suborbital launch system.

The above video has clips of the test. Click here to watch the complete webcast of the test flight.

The webcast itself is significant, because until now Blue hasn't broadcast live its tests. If successful, eventually we saw highlight clips on YouTube and the Blue Origin web site.

Also significant is that this was Blue's first test of the capsule's re-entry without one of its three main chutes. More about the test flight in this Spaceflight Now article.

The BE-3 engine uses liquid hydrogen as a fuel. Most launch providers on Planet Earth use RP-1 kerosene, which is cheaper and easier to handle, but liquid hydrogen provides more bang for the buck. The upper stages of the Saturn V, and the Space Shuttle's orbiter main engines, used liquid hydrogen. Blue's next-generation engine, the BE-4, will use methane. Rival SpaceX is also working on a next-generation engine called Raptor that would use methane.

The BE-4 engine will be used on a booster capable of sending payloads into orbital flight. That unnamed rocket will launch from the Cape's Pad 36. Blue is currently clearing land at Kennedy Space Center on Space Commerce Road for their Orbital Launch Site Manufacturing Complex. Click here for images.

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