Blue Origin Conducts Successful High Altitude Escape Motor Test on 9th New Shepard Mission

Shepard Crew Capsule, July 18, 2018, during descent on Mission 9.  Credit: Blue Origin
Ken Kremer     18 July 2018

Blue Origin conducted a successful uncrewed test fight of
the high altitude escape motor during the 9th flight of the firms suborbital
New Shepard booster from their launch facility in West Texas- that pushed the
system to the limits to prove it would be safe for humans to fly one day in the
near future.

purpose of the test was to demonstrate that the Crew Capsule carrying
astronauts could be pushed away from the rocket at any time during the flight to
save their lives in case of an in flight emergency.

The flight was known as Mission 9 and launched at 11:11 a.m. EDT, 10:11 a.m. CDT (1511 GMT) from the company’s
vast test site located north of Van Horn, Texas.

Both the rocket and capsule were safely recovered at the
conclusion of the 11 minute test which was broadcast live by Blue Origin.

Blue Origin is owned and financed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder
of Amazon, and the world’s richest man.

New Shepard booster
(left) and crew capsule (right) landings at Blue Origin West Texas site during July
18, 2018 Mission 9 test flight. Credit: Blue Origin

The crew capsule reached an altitude of 389, 846 feet or 119 km and
a maximum ascent velocity of 2236 MPH after the kick from the abort motor. 
Several NASA science payloads also flew on board Mission 9.

Here is the Mission 9 profile graphic from Blue Origin:

Bezos hopes to fly paying passengers to the edge of space and back
for both thrill and science – to an altitude of 62-mile-high (100-kilometer) –
the internationally recognized boundary where space begins. The crews will enjoy
a few minutes of weightlessness.  

The timeline for passenger flights has not been announced and no
tickets have been sold. 

Shepard on the launch pad the morning of Mission 8, April 29, 2018. Credit:
Blue Origin

Here are the Mission 9 details
in a press release from Blue Origin:

New Shepard flew for the ninth time on July 18, 2018. During this
mission, known as Mission 9 (M9), the escape motor was fired shortly after
booster separation. The Crew Capsule was pushed hard by the escape test and we
stressed the rocket to test that astronauts can get away from an anomaly at any
time during flight. The mission was a success for both the booster and capsule.
Most importantly, astronauts would have had an exhilarating ride and safe

This isn’t the first time we’ve done this type of extreme testing on New
Shepard. In October of 2012, we simulated a booster failure on the launch pad
and had a successful escape. Then in October of 2016, we simulated a booster
failure in-flight at Max Q, which is the most physically strenuous point in the
flight for the rocket, and had a completely successful escape of the capsule.

This test on M9 allowed us to finally characterize escape motor performance in
the near-vacuum of space and guarantee that we can safely return our
astronauts in any phase of flight.

Also on M9, New Shepard carried science and research payloads from commercial
companies, universities and space agencies. Learn more about the payloads on

You can also view the full replay of M9 on YouTube.

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA,
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more space and mission reports direct
from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and
Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

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Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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