It is absolutely delightful when you lose something precious (with no hope of seeing it again) and it manages to make its way back to you. And when that something in question is a multi-million dollar rocket, well, what do you know. Blue Origin got a similar surprise today, when its New Shepard rocket managed to make a successful landing after first successfully testing its escape system test. Needless to say, those hoping for fireworks were sorely disappointed.
We reported earlier that Blue Origin was hoping to test a brand new escape system using its New Shepard rocket. The rocket had gone through multiple launches and the company fully didn’t expect it to come out of the test unscathed. At best, Blue Origin was hoping to place it in a Museum and at worst, it was hoping to give Texans some really expensive fireworks in the middle of the day.
However, the New Shepard exceeded all expectations to land back successfully after releasing the escape pod away from the rocket. Needless to say, folks over at Blue Origin must be overjoyed at the unexpected development.
In case you have not been following the company’s exploits lately, today’s mission was meant to test the capabilities of New Shepard’s newly installed escape system. The feature is expected to save passengers, in case the rocket suffers a failure during flight in the future. In today’s successful test, the escape system was activated around 45 seconds after the takeoff took place. Mirroring what would actually happen in case an accident with a New Falcon carrying real, live passengers did occur, a rocket motor was ignited underneath the New Shepard’s crew capsule.
The motor burned for around two seconds, taking the crew capsule away from the New Shepard rocket. Once it was a fair distance away, the inbuilt parachutes kicked in and brought the capsule — which may be carrying humans in a few years — safely to the ground.
The mission was already a success at this point, however, the Shepard rocket had other ideas. After climbing further into space, it managed to effect a successful landing, gilding the lily. While the rocket won’t be flying ever again, recovering it intact is certainly more than Blue Origin was hoping for. Founder Jeff Bezos said that a party will be thrown in honor of the over-performing rocket — Why aren’t all employees like that? — and it will be given a place of honor in a museum.
The company is hoping to use the rockets in sending paying passengers to experience space. The booster will carry the capsule up to 62 miles above the Earth’s surface and once there, the capsule will separate from it, with both falling back down to the earth — the capsule and the passengers inside touching down gently, thanks to parachutes. Today’s test should provide a significant leg up to the company’s plan as its passengers can be sure of making it safely back in case an accident does occur, all these miles above the earth.