Friday , December 3 2021

Blue Origin scrubs suborbitala launch attempt, next countdown no earlier than Friday – Spaceflight Now


REPORT REPORT: Updated at 9:00 AM EST (1400 GMT) Tuesday with Blue Origins notice of a scrubbing launch attempt. Updated at 10:30 AM EST (0330 GMT on 19 December) with a new target launch date.

File photo of a New Shepard rocket at Blue Origins test site in West Texas before a previous flight. Credit: Blue Origin

Blue Origin scrubbed the planned launch Tuesday of the company's suburban New Shepard booster from West Texas due to a "ground infrastructure problem".

The liftoff was set at 8:30 CST (9:30 AM EST, 1430 GMT) Tuesday from Blue Origins bursting test facility north of Van Horn, Texas, but Blue Origin tweeted just before 8:00 CST as the launch was delayed.

"We're scrubbing today's # NewShepard launch due to a basic infrastructure issue," Blue Origin tweeted Tuesday morning. "The vehicle is in good condition. Stand for updates as we see what the weather looks like tomorrow."

Blue Origin tweeted and updated later Tuesday: "Still working through infrastructure issues and monitoring incoming weather in West Texas. Slating next launch window NET Friday 12/21 pending further review. Stay up to date as we learn more."

When it's out, the flight is expected to climb to an altitude of more than 60 miles – or 100 kilometers – powered by a hydrogen-based BE-3 engine. NASA research loads will fly inside a crew on top of the New Shepard booster, but no passengers will board the launch.

Booster and capsule will be separated after switching off the rocket's main engine. Both cars come back to earth, with the rocket aiming at a controlled vertical touchdown on a landing plate using braking torches and the capsule falls off to the desert floor a few miles away.

Founded and funded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin plans to fly people on a new Shepard launch next year. Booster to fly again this week is the third New Shepard propulsion module manufactured by Blue Origin, and the company says that a fourth New Shepard rocket – which is intended to transport people on suborbital voyages to space – has arrived at West Texas- launch site from its factory near Seattle.

The upcoming flight will be the 10th launch of a New Shepard vehicle and the fourth flight with the third New Shepard propulsion module. It will also be Blue Origins first flight since July 18th, when engineers showed the vehicle's high altitude breaking capacity.

The capsule's solid-burned abortion engine kicked off to quickly accelerate the boat away from the rocket, which simulates that flight operators would use to quickly get away from an incorrect booster at high altitude. Blue Origin achieved a demonstration of lower altitude in 2016.

Blue Origin is expected to use the same booster and crew capsule from the July Mission at the upcoming launch, scheduled less than a week after one of the company's main competitors on the suburban space tourism market – Virgin Galactic – flew its SpaceShipTwo rocket plan to the edge of space for the first time with two test pilots at the controls.

The SpaceShipTwo rocket reached a maximum height of 51.4 miles, or 82.7 kilometers, on Thursday's test flight, over the 50-mile land used by the US Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine who is assigned astronauts. Blue Origins New Shepard flights, which no-one has transported passengers or employees so far, has reached heights above the 100-kilometer Kármán line, the internationally recognized space limit.

A April 29 New Shepard test launch flew to a height of 351,000 feet, or about 107 kilometers. Bezos said it was the height of Blue Origin target for operational New Shepard flights.

Blue Origin has not announced ticket prices for passengers wishing to ride New Shepard, and the company is not yet charging fees. Virgin Galactic has received deposits from hundreds of space tourists against $ 250,000 prize on a ride on SpaceShipTwo.

While Virgin Galactics SpaceShipTwo vehicles use airborne emissions to shoot into space and land on a runway under manual pilot control, Blue Origins fully automated New Shepard rocket and crew capsule removes vertically from a starter plate, followed by a propulsive landing of a booster and a parachute assistant return of the passenger-carrying module – an airplane profile is expected to be demonstrated again on Tuesday's mission.

"Jeff drives a very similar type of business to us, but a very different experience as a passenger," said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic and Virgin Group, in an interview Thursday with CNBC. "His will is a land-based rocket, our is a spacecraft flying and coming back down on their wheels. He comes back down in parachute. They both, I think, are very valid. I think they both will be huge experiences for people, and my guess is that people will want to try both if they can afford it. "

The nine NASA-sponsored experiments slated to fly to space on New Shepard's 10th mission include payroll from universities and NASA centers that investigate the behavior of a "green" non-toxic fuel in microgravity, showing a way to measure the fuel levels in microwaves using sound waves, test technology to cool electronics in space and measure the naturally occurring electromagnetic fields inside and outside the spacecraft.

Other NASA payloads include a couple of planet science studies from the University of Central Florida to help researchers better understand how dust particles on other planets can respond to human and robot contact and to evaluate the performance of an asteroid sampling mechanism in a low-power environment. New Shepard will also have an experimental image transmitter that can be used to support future biological investigations on suborbital rockets, a vibration isolation platform to protect experiments from shakes and forces that occur during flight and a data recorder that logs temperature, pressure, carbon dioxide levels, acoustic conditions and acceleration inside the cabin.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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