Science

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket aces record 7th launch

PHOTO CREDITS: SPACE.COM

According to Space.com, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket aces record 7th launch, landing in a test flight on an uncrewed flight over West Texas early last week. 

The uncrewed New Shepard launch vehicle, which consists of a reusable rocket and space capsule, lifted off from the company at 8:36 a.m. CDT. After separating from the rocket booster, the capsule gently parachuted back down to Earth while the booster executed a flawless vertical landing. The test mission called NS-13 was the seventh consecutive test flight of this particular rocket booster and the 13th flight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard program. 

“Touch DOWN, New Shepard here we go,” Blue Origin’s Caitlin Dietrich said as the booster returned to Earth about eight minutes after liftoff. “That never gets old.” The capsule also landed smoothly, a bit more than 600 seconds after blastoff. “Congratulations to Team Blue today,” Dietrich said. “I’m a little bit out of breath, this is really exciting, but it sounds like everything went well today” (Earth Sky). 

The launch on October 13th was rescheduled from September 24 when a power glitch forced Blue Origin to scratch the flight. With 13 test flights under its belt, New Shepard could soon start carrying commercial passengers on 10-minute space tourism flights to suborbital space. But Blue Origin hasn’t yet announced the date of its first crewed flight, and the company has not yet started to sell tickets.

The rocket uses Newton’s laws of motion to travel. The pressure accelerates the gas one way and the rocket the other. The thrust for the rocket continues as long as its engine is firing. Because fuel is burnt, the mass of the rocket changes during flight, causing velocity to increase. While blasting-off of a rocket, Newton’s third law is applied, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” (Physics Classroom). Propellers exert thrust causing equal and opposite force in the rocket and causing it to blast-off. In the case of “New Shepard”, in its first stages, it uses every drop of fuel to boost its payload into orbit. After it flips or covers it’s projected flight, all of its engines reignite, slowing the rocket’s re-entry velocity. These engines fire again as the rocket is just about to touch the landing platform.

“The experiments will verify how these technologies of sensors, computers, and algorithms work together to determine a spacecraft’s location and speed as it approaches the moon, enabling a vehicle to land autonomously on the lunar surface within 100 meters of a designated point,” Blue Origin officials said. “Technologies could allow future missions – both crewed and robotic – to target landing sites that weren’t possible during the Apollo missions, such as varied terrains near craters,” the statement added (Earth Sky). 

ARTICLE: PATEL CHAITANYA

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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