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  Blue Origin New Shepard test flight (1.22.16)

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Author Topic:   Blue Origin New Shepard test flight (1.22.16)
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 34784
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-21-2016 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Blue Origin may be preparing for another test flight of the company's New Shepard suborbital vehicle, based on an airspace restriction published by the Federal Aviation Administration Jan. 21, SpaceNews reports.
The temporary flight restriction notice covers a region of airspace that corresponds with Blue Origin's test site north of Van Horn, Texas. The restriction, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Jan. 22 and 23, is for "space flight operations," according to FAA, although the notice does not provide any additional information about the nature of the operations.

Blue Origin has not confirmed plans for any test flights, keeping with the company's practice of not announcing tests until after they take place. However, the FAA has issued similar flight restrictions prior to earlier New Shepard flights, including one shortly before the vehicle's last test flight Nov. 23.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 34784
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2016 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Per GeekWire's Alan Boyle:
Not much info from @blueorigin so far on flight test buzz: "Unfortunately, Blue Origin doesn't have anything to contribute at this time."

For what it's worth, ZAB air traffic control says NOTAM for @blueorigin test flight is no longer in effect.

A twitter user (Patrick Brown, @phhbrown) posted this photo:
View of the West Texas sky this morning. #blueorigin

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 34784
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2016 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Blue Origin release (statement by Jeff Bezos)
Launch. Land. Repeat.

The very same New Shepard booster that flew above the Karman line and then landed vertically at its launch site last November has now flown and landed again, demonstrating reuse. This time, New Shepard reached an apogee of 333,582 feet (101.7 kilometers) before both capsule and booster gently returned to Earth for recovery and reuse.

Data from the November mission matched our preflight predictions closely, which made preparations for today's re-flight relatively straightforward. The team replaced the crew capsule parachutes, replaced the pyro igniters, conducted functional and avionics checkouts, and made several software improvements, including a noteworthy one.

Rather than the vehicle translating to land at the exact center of the pad, it now initially targets the center, but then sets down at a position of convenience on the pad, prioritizing vehicle attitude ahead of precise lateral positioning. It's like a pilot lining up a plane with the centerline of the runway. If the plane is a few feet off center as you get close, you don't swerve at the last minute to ensure hitting the exact mid-point. You just land a few feet left or right of the centerline.

Our Monte Carlo sims of New Shepard landings show this new strategy increases margins, improving the vehicle's ability to reject disturbances created by low-altitude winds.

Though wings and parachutes have their adherents and their advantages, I'm a huge fan of rocket-powered vertical landing. Why? Because — to achieve our vision of millions of people living and working in space — we will need to build very large rocket boosters. And the vertical landing architecture scales extraordinarily well.

When you do a vertical landing, you're solving the classic inverted pendulum problem, and the inverted pendulum problem gets a bit easier as the pendulum gets a bit bigger. Try balancing a pencil on the tip of your finger. Now try it with a broomstick. The broomstick is simpler because its greater moment of inertia makes it easier to balance.

We solved the inverted pendulum problem on New Shepard with an engine that dynamically gimbals to balance the vehicle as it descends. And since New Shepard is the smallest booster we will ever build, this carefully choreographed dance atop our plume will just get easier from here.

We're already more than three years into development of our first orbital vehicle. Though it will be the small vehicle in our orbital family, it's still many times larger than New Shepard. I hope to share details about this first orbital vehicle this year.

Headshot
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Posts: 566
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 01-23-2016 03:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reusing the same rocket that has flown before is a HUGE step forward for the industry. Hopefully it cost Bezos a heckuvalot lot less to refurbish the rocket than it did to build a new one from scratch.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 34784
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-25-2016 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apparently, it was more inspection than refurbishing, as described by Blue Origin president Rob Meyerson in an interview with SpaceNews:
He noted that while engineers inspected the vehicle's BE-3 engine after the November flight, they did not remove it and do more thorough analysis of it prior to the Jan. 22 flight. "Having the ability to turn the vehicle around quickly is going to really depend on going to more of an inspection mode on some of those critical subsystems than an overhaul mode," he said.
According to Meyerson, the Jan. 22 flight used the same rocket and capsule that launched in November, and that subsequent tests, at an increasing flight rate, will use the same hardware as well.

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