Science & Technology

Video: Jeff Bezos shares drone’s-eye view of Blue Origin spaceship’s flight

Saturday’s test flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship marked heaps of milestones, together with the primary time a drone captured video of its launch from above.

These sorts of views have long been provided by SpaceX, one of Blue Origin’s rivals within the reusable rocket enterprise, and so they’re thrilling. The video that Blue Origin founder (and Amazon billionaire) Jeff Bezos shared as we speak is in the identical class – proper right down to the rockin’ soundtrack.

“We pushed the envelope on this flight, restarting the engine for the propulsive touchdown solely 3,600 toes above the bottom, requiring the BE-3 engine to begin quick and ramp to excessive thrust quick,” Bezos stated in a blog post accompanying the video.

For the third time in a row, New Shepard’s propulsion module despatched a crew capsule (sans crew) past the 100-kilometer (62-mile) boundary of outer house and got here again right down to make a clean vertical touchdown.

The check at Blue Origin’s West Texas launch facility adopted up on profitable flights in November and January, marking one other victory for full rocket reusability and bringing the corporate nearer to sending individuals on suborbital journeys to house. Bezos says check flights with passengers may come as quickly as subsequent 12 months, with business flights coming in 2018.

This flight additionally marked the primary time scientific payloads had been despatched into outer house aboard the New Shepard crew capsule. One of the experiments was designed and constructed on the Southwest Analysis Institute, often known as SwRI. It simulated the dynamics of loosely bound rocky soil on near-Earth asteroids. One other experiment, from the College of Central Florida, studied how mud behaves in zero-G.

Blue Origin chosen the experiments for flight again in 2009.

“We’ve got been ready for at the present time for a very long time,” UCF physicist Joshua Colwell stated in a post-landing news release. “Lots of gifted college students have helped to make this occur.”

Colwell’s undertaking is named the Microgravity Experiment on Mud Environments in Astrophysics, or MEDEA. It’s half of a multi-experiment marketing campaign referred to as the Collisions Into Mud Experiment, or COLLIDE. The marketing campaign is aimed toward serving to scientists perceive the conduct of mud on small asteroids, and the way house mud builds as much as type planets and their rings.

Earlier COLLIDE payloads flew on house shuttle missions in 1998 and 2001.

The experiments and information had been recovered quickly after New Shepard’s crew capsule made its parachute touchdown. In UCF’s information launch, members of Blue Origin’s crew indicated that more suborbital space experiments can be flown in the course of the check flights to return.

“Our first step towards hundreds of thousands of individuals residing and dealing in house was launching and touchdown New Shepard,” Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson stated. “Now, our payload pathfinder prospects are serving to us take the subsequent step by placing this reusable spacecraft to make use of within the identify of science.”

Again in 2009, SwRI planetary scientist Alan Stern predicted that house analysis would sometime develop into a “killer app” for suborbital spaceflight and produce in additional income for spaceship operators than house tourism. This weekend’s analysis payloads had been flown at no cost, as a result of situations for Blue Origin’s experimental launch allow. However, they mark two small steps towards realizing that imaginative and prescient.

“Suborbital spaceflight opens the door for an unimaginable vary of scientific analysis and know-how growth, from biotech and supplies science to fluid physics and engineering,” stated Erika Wagner, Blue Origin’s head of payload packages.

Final 12 months, Blue Origin stated it could charge as little as $5,300 to ship scholar payloads on suborbital house journeys – as soon as the Federal Aviation Administration grants a business launch license for New Shepard. The corporate, which is headquartered in Kent, Wash., can be engaged on a extra bold orbital house program that can ultimately launch payloads from a Florida facility.

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