Blue Origin carried out a successful test of the abort system of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle Oct. 5, managing to safely land both the vehicle’s crew capsule and propulsion module.
The New Shepard vehicle lifted off from its test site in West Texas at 11:36 a.m. Eastern. The launch was delayed by more than a half-hour because of an unspecified problem with the vehicle discovered a little more than one minute before the original liftoff time, causing the countdown to hold and they recycle before restarting.
Approximately 45 seconds after liftoff, the vehicle’s crew capsule fired its solid-fuel abort motor, sending it away from the propulsion module. The capsule then descended under parachutes as it would on a typical flight after separating from the booster, landing four minutes and 15 seconds after liftoff.
Blue Origin had warned that the abort test would likely destroy the propulsion module, as the force of the abort motor pushed it off course and subjected it to unplanned aerodynamic forces. However, the booster continued to fly normally after the capsule escaped. The booster descended to a powered landing on a pad seven and a half minutes after liftoff, leaning to one side slightly and appearing singed, but otherwise in good condition.