Yesterday Blue Origin performed third successful start, flight and landing of their New Shepard vehicle.
Around 15:18 GMT in Blue Origin launch facility near in Van Horn, Texas, New Shepard fired its BE-3 engine and lifted off. Inside its crewed compartment there was only payload with measuring devices and two science experiments created by students and scientists from Southwest Research Institute and University of Central Florida. During this flight Blue Origin decided to use propulsion module which lifted crew capsule during two previous flights on 23 November 2015 and 22 January 2016. In this way it was showed that Blue Origin is possessing truly reliable and proven reusable space launch vehicle. According to Tweet posted by Jeff Bezos:
“Flawless BE-3 restart and perfect booster landing. CC chutes
“CC touchdown confirmed.”
We can assume that everything went correct. Official movie recorded by cameras installed on drones flying around launch site will be published, according official site, as soon as possible.
Launch performed yesterday was little different than previous two flights. First of all inside crew capsule Blue Origin installed scientific payload – flight was not only limited to testing New Shepard but has also additional objective. Secondly, Crew capsule was equipped with new Radar Cross-Section algorithm. Third difference is technique of landing of the first stage. This time after reaching altitude of around 103.2 km first stage shut down engines and capsule separated. Propulsion module started to fall and for this time it started engine again with full thrust just on altitude of 1000 m. Four stabilizing legs were deployed and rocket landed gently on the pad. This attempt was giving only 6 seconds for reducing speed to level when rocket would land not crash. Crew capsule landed gently on three parachutes with utilization of retro thrusters which reduced speed to 5 km/h during touchdown.