Space Tech of the Week: New Shepard

What is it?: A reusable manned rocket which is being "designed to routinely fly multiple astronauts into suborbital space at competitive prices. In addition to providing the public with opportunities to experience spaceflight, New Shepard will also provide frequent opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into space and a microgravity environment." The rocket is being "developed by Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon.com founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos"

"The spacecraft is based on technology like that used for the McDonnell Douglas DC-X and derivative DC-XA. Bezos told Reuters in November 2004 that his company hopes to progress to orbital spaceflight. As of January 2005, the company's website announced that it hopes to establish an "enduring human presence in space", but the 2007 version talks instead of aiming to "patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go and so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system".

"The New Shepard craft is planned to be a vertical take-off/vertical landing (VTVL) system. The overall shape is circular in cross-section and ogive (bullet shaped) from nose to tail, the base being somewhat rounded. It is powered by a cluster of nine engines powered by High test peroxide (HTP) and RP-1 kerosene, arranged in a 3 by 3 grid on the bottom. Four landing legs containing shock absorbers also extend from the edges of the bottom. The existing demonstrator vehicle has a diameter of 7 metres and a height of 15 metres. The total mass of the propellant is 54 tons and the thrust is 1000 kN."

The vehicle "will consist of a pressurized Crew Capsule (CC) carrying experiments and astronauts atop a reliable Propulsion Module (PM). "

"The launch vehicle is assembled at the Blue Origin facility near Seattle, Washington. Blue Origin is starting the process to build an aerospace testing and operations center on a portion of the Corn Ranch, a 165,000-acre (668 km2) land parcel Bezos purchased 40 km north of Van Horn, Texas."

"New Shepard will take-off vertically and accelerate for approximately two and a half minutes before shutting off its rocket engines and coasting into space. The vehicle will carry rocket motors enabling the Crew Capsule to escape from the PM in the event of a serious anomaly during launch. In space, the Crew Capsule will separate from the PM and the two will reenter and land separately for re-use. The Crew Capsule will land softly under a parachute at the launch site. Astronauts and experiments will experience no more than 6 g acceleration into their seats and a 1.5 g lateral acceleration during a typical flight."

Blue Origin Website

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