NASA Commercial Crew Partner Blue Origin Completes Pad Escape Test

Credit: NASA/Blue Origin

Blue Origin successfully completed a pad escape test at the company’s West Texas launch site Oct. 19, firing its pusher escape motor and launching a full-scale suborbital crew capsule from a simulated propulsion module. Blue Origin’s suborbital crew capsule traveled to an altitude of 2,307 feet during the flight test before descending safely by parachute to a soft landing 1,630 feet away.

The pusher escape system was designed and developed by Blue Origin to allow crew escape in the event of an emergency during any phase of ascent for its suborbital New Shepard system. As part of an incremental development program, the results of this test will shape the design of the escape system for the company’s biconic-shaped orbital Space Vehicle. The system is expected to enable full reusability of the launch vehicle, which is different from NASA’s previous launch escape systems that would pull a spacecraft away from its rocket before reaching orbit.

Credit: NASA/Blue Origin

The test was part of Blue Origin’s work supporting its funded Space Act Agreement with NASA during Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2). Through initiatives like CCDev2, NASA is fostering the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. After the capability is matured and available to the government and other customers, NASA could contract to purchase commercial services to meet its station crew transportation needs.

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