After last successful test flight performed on June 19, 2016, Blue Origin decided to take a summer holidays from flights of their. But now it is sure, that at least one flight will be conducted before end of the year. It is time to work!
According to email sent by Jeff Bezos next test flight will be at least important as previous performed during fourth flight of New Shepard on June 19. Last time test was conducted with main objective to check if parachutes used for reducing speed before landing will work properly if one of them (along with one drag parachutes deployed before main parachutes are extracted) will fail. Test was successful and clearly showed that New Shepard is safe vehicle even in emergency situation. But still another thing remained to be checked – rescue system used in first phase of flight. As most of manned space vehicles are using boom with attached rocket motors to pull capsule from rocket in case any risk of explosion, New Shepard is equipped in device operating in a different way mainly due the cost of such solution. Boom with rocket thrusters is always jettisoned after launch before reaching space what makes using this system rather expensive. Blue Origin developed thruster installed under capsule which is able to serve multiple times if it is not used. This system was already tested during previous trials on the ground and single pad escape test, but it has never been tested during real flight.
Planned test will be performed in the first half of October 2016 at Blue Origin test range in Texas placed near Van Horn. New Shepard will be launched as usual, but after 45 seconds of flight, after reaching altitude of over 4800 m, ground control center will initiate escape sequence. Capsule will separate from the booster and next, escape motor will start to operate. Capsule will leave trajectory of booster after first two seconds after igniting motor. Next, it will stop motor and stabilize its flight with reaction control thrusters to extract drag parachutes slightly after reaching peek altitude. Three main parachutes will be deployed later. Sadly, it is not much possible to recover booster due the fact that stabilizing fins will be separated after jettisoning capsule (not to mention about changing weight and general shape in most crucial moment of flight) and booster will still have propellant in its tanks, what will not help in stable flight. This will probably end life of first rocket by Blue Origin, but capsule (of course in case of success) will survive and will be probably used in another test flight.