Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster successfully completed its 12th Test flight (NS-12) on December 11, the sixth in a row,media reported. At 11:53 a.m. Central Time, the single-stage rocket took off from Blue Origin’s launch site in Van Horn, western Texas, and the flight lasted 10 minutes and 16 seconds.
There, the unmanned capsule has a maximum as-to-rise speed of 2,222 mph (3,576 km/h) and an altitude of 346,727 feet (106 km).
Blue Origin is expected to launch its first manned flight next year, and the system will not be updated because the rocket used in the test is known as a payload vehicle.
Named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, New Shepard is designed as a fully reusable vertical takeoff/vertical landing rocket that carries passengers and payloads to suborbital flight and into space, reaching altitudes of more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) before returning to Earth. It is reported that the goal of the project is to significantly reduce flight costs by ensuring that the boosterises are refurbished as little as possible between missions.
The capsule that opened the parachute.
The single-stage booster is known to be powered by blue Origin’s BE-3PM engine, which uses a mixture of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as fuel and can produce up to 110,000 pounds of thrust, but can be reduced to 20,000 pounds on landing.
When New Shepard reached an altitude of 250,000 feet (106 kilometers), the crew compartment separated and continued to slide unforced to an altitude of 350,000 feet (106 kilometers). Blue Origin says that because the capsule and the rocket are fully autonomous, every astronaut is a passenger, not a crew member.
At the end of the flight, the booster performs a controlled, powered landing, while the return module opens the parachute at the last minute and conducts an anti-rocket ignition to complete the soft landing. During this flight, the capsule will experience a three-minute weightlessness.
NS-12 booster arrives on the ground
Blue Origin says New Shepard intends not only to send passengers and payloads into space, but will also be used as a test ingress for the development of the company’s orbital vehicles New Glenn and Blue Moon lunar landers.
NS-12 Mission Video