After pushing back a planned test flight of the New Shepard booster and capsule from Friday until Sunday due to a leaking O-ring in the capsule’s nitrogen gas pressurization system, Blue Origin made it four in a row with another successful launch and landing of both.
The Father’s Day flight added two new wrinkles, one fans had been waiting to see, and another no-one hopes to see again; a live webcast and the deliberate failure of one of three parachutes. Both were a resounding success.
The webcast, included below in both short and long form, while perhaps not as gregarious as the SpaceX webcasts we have come to look forward to, provided remarkable visuals, which accompanied by a velocity gauge, offered great insight into how descending vehicles behave in both vacuum and air. In the longer of the two videos, it is interesting to see how close, at least from the ground camera’s perspective, the booster and capsule remain to each other as they sail through near space after stage separation.
Later, with one parachute disabled, the crew capsule reaches a steady descent velocity of 22 mph prior to a last second deceleration burn just as it is about to smack the desert floor.
Yesterday’s flight, which carried three suborbital research payloads, lifted off at 10:36 AM EDT, was the fourth for this booster/capsule combination. It may however, be one of its last. As part of the lead-up to crewed test flights which are scheduled to begin next year, one upcoming mission will feature an in-flight abort test of the capsule’s escape motor, an event which could prove catastrophic for the booster.
Let’s hope not. As Indiana Jones might say, “It belongs in a museum.”
And the long form: