Blue Origin is testing the New Shepard capsule evacuation system. And the chances of survival of the rocket are unlikely.
Before conducting tests with pilots or passengers who purchase tickets to the New Shepard suborbital spacecraft, Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wants to make sure that everyone on board can survive a launch failure.
To this end, the company is preparing for a key test of the emergency capsule evacuation system. The so-called in-flight crash test, scheduled for Tuesday, is of paramount importance, regardless of the outcome. About this Bezos wrote on the company website.
Blue Origin president Rob Meerson said the test begins with the ignition of the “New Shepard” rocket, which is launched for the fifth time. 45 seconds after the start, the command computer will start the scheduled detachment of the capsule at an altitude of about 16,000 feet.
The redundant separation system will detach the capsule from the booster. At the same time, a solid fuel capsular engine will ignite within two seconds to redirect the path of the capsule to the other side of the launch vehicle flight. The capsule will descend down the slope, launching small thruster when entering the atmosphere to stabilize. If everything goes according to plan, the capsule will deploy three of its stabilizing parachutes, followed by three main parachutes, and land gently near the company's launch pad.
But for a launch vehicle, things will not be so bright. Meerson said the engine of the capsule would strike her with a weight of 70,000 pounds.
“The capsule will create a bubble from a hot exhaust, that is, some kind of howl, the force of which will try to slow down the launch vehicle and knock it off,” Meerson said last week during a presentation at the International Astronautics Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“If the force is too large, our thrust system will actually cut out the engine thrust. In this case, the booster will fall in the desert in the state of Texas, creating an unforgettable spectacle.
If the booster manages to correct its position after the explosion from the capsule, then it will continue to fly along a predetermined trajectory and, I hope, make a soft landing in the planned place. I use the word “I hope” because the booster was not developed for this scenario and, most likely, we will observe it among the sands of the desert, ”Meerson said. Computer simulations point to zero chances for the survival of a rocket. Meerson added that even if the landing proceeds smoothly, the days of flights for the rocket are still numbered.
“We will send this historic rocket to a well-deserved retirement or put it somewhere in a museum,” he said.
The capsule will also no longer fly, although the company has enough missiles and capsules that are ready to continue test flights. The company, which has not yet opened a ticket for the space attraction, plans to start testing the capsule with its employees on board next year.
“We really are very, very confident in this important evacuation system,” said Meerson.
In addition to ground testing, the company conducted an evacuation test at the site in October 2012.
“The upcoming flight will be the toughest test we did,” Bezos said.
The company plans to launch a webcast of the test, which will begin at 10:50 am EST on Tuesday.