Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a [descent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Origin ]

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Comment by SteveInCO on November 25, 2015 at 12:32am

The landing is impressive.

The real goal is to do something like this going to orbit...which requires a LOT more delta V, because you have to get as high as this did, where it was (for a moment) moving at zero speed...then add about Mach 25 to it.

Comment by TJ on November 25, 2015 at 1:38pm

Steve - The successor to the Atlas V rocket engine is the BE-4 (Blue Engine 4), and that's the engine that will get payload to low earth orbits.

I believe they are looking to around 2019 to get that going...but its part of the long-term goal.

This 1,000 km test flight was a proof of concept flight for vertical take of and landing the craft, and the low earth orbit ~ 2,000 km flights would be with the BE-4 engine, and not the (BE-3) engine used in this video above.

The Vulcan is also scheduled to use the BE-4 too, and a modified version by Boeing for the XS-1.

Replacing the RD series Russian engines reduces our reliance on Russia for stuff like this, a good thing probably.

:D

Comment by Davis Goodman on November 25, 2015 at 5:37pm

Egad!!!

Comment by Pope Beanie on November 25, 2015 at 5:54pm

Took me a day to remember where I'd seen that rocket before...

Comment by TJ on November 25, 2015 at 6:14pm

LOL

Pope, that's EXACTLY my first thought too...it looked like a virus.

I'm glad I'm not the only crazy one.

Comment by SteveInCO on November 25, 2015 at 9:25pm

TJ,

The ability to land is *extremely* important.  I saw a tweet from Elon Musk congratulating them for that, especially since SpaceX has failed to do so after several attempts.  He, on the other hand, has the other part of the puzzle, an orbit capable rocket.

It will be very very interesting to see which company wins the race to put the two together.

Comment by TJ on November 25, 2015 at 10:38pm

Well, if they can VTOL with the BE-3 engine, you'd think the stabilization algorithms, etc, would be good experience when they swap in the BE-4 engine, to go orbital.  That bodes well for the Blue Team.

Comment by SteveInCO on November 27, 2015 at 8:39am

It will be a matter of seeing whether it scales up, then.  And by that, I mean the rocket.  There are a number of parameters (mass fraction, specific impulse, and others I've long since forgotten) that all serve as limitations on what can be done, and when combined have made a single-stage-to-orbit (and back) one of those elusive "we can almost do it" type of things, and that was completely aside from the difficulty of controlling the rocket on the way back down.

Even Space X was jettisoning their booster, which would have meant lots of time and effort spent reassembling the thing and ensuring it's still spaceworthy.  (The shuttle was hugely expensive, more so than anticipated, for similar reasons.)

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