Blue Origins, the private space firm that is being funded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, carried out a successful test of its New Shepard rocket and passenger capsule system. The duo reached the suborbital space and then returned back to Earth.
The New Shepard’s rocket booster and the crew capsule made contact with the surface after the booster was able to bring the capsule to the edge of space – 350,775 feet above the surface of the Earth. The New Shepard is also designed to be reusable similar to the Dragon launch system being used by SpaceX. By making it reusable, Blue Origins is saving a lot of money when it comes to sending humans and materials into space.
The rocket made use of a set of fins for making sure that it remained upright while descending back to earth once the crew capsule had been detached at the height of around 200,000 feet. It underwent free fall for some time and then made use of mechanical drag brakes for slowing down its descent.
At around 8,000 feet the New Shepard rocket fired again and used the thrust created for slowing down the rocket and making it hover above the ground. Once it was close enough, the rocket made use of a set of retractable legs for landing safely.
Coming back to the crew capsule that had detached; it spent a few minutes at the boundary to space. It housed numerous experiments that were designed to take advantage of the duration during which zero gravity would be experienced.
The capsule, interestingly enough, has the largest windows that have ever been built into a vessel that touches space. Once it began falling back to Earth, it relied on a two-stage parachuting system for slowing its descent at approximately 30,000 feet. When it made contact with the surface of the Earth, it was traveling at a speed of only 15 mph.
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