On April 2nd 2016, Blue Origin successfully launched their reusable New Shepard rocket on a brief jaunt to space. This is the third successful launch that the New Shepard has completed from its launch site in West Texas, which is continuing to showcase the viability of Blue Origin’s reusable rocket technology.
The most recent launch saw the rocket reach heights of around 64.5 miles, where the New Shepard experienced a few minutes of microgravity, before beginning its return to Earth. Additionally, the rocket used in this launch is the same that was used in the two previous flights, this being the highest distance the rocket travelled so far. On return to Earth the rockets unmanned capsule separated to land using parachutes, while the rocket performed a power landing that was almost identical to their previous flights. However, this time there was a key difference, the timing of the engine restart.
The propulsive landing began at around 3,600 feet above the ground, with Blue Origins CEO, Jeff Bezos, tweeting that there would be an “impact in 6 seconds if the engine doesn’t restart and ramp fast.” However, this scenario was all planned and was carried out to showcase the increased capability of the impressive BE-3 booster.
The latest flight was more than just a test of the rockets technology, as it was involved in two experiments from surrounding universities. One of the experiments was to measure the influence of microgravity on small rocks, and the other, to see how collisions occur in microgravity.
Blue Origin have set high goals for the organisation, with future plans including the launching of orbital rockets. The company have great plans for the imminent future as they are in the planning stages of manned flights, which are set to go ahead by next year. These advances and plans show that the commercialisation of space is well and truly steaming ahead. The latest launch also confirms the validity of Blue Origin’s commitment to privatise spaceflight.