Encyclopedia Astronautica
New Shepard



znewshep.jpg
New Shepard
Left, subscale Goddard testbed; right, concept of final vehicle based on overall dimensions reported.
Credit: © Mark Wade
American manned spacecraft. Flight tests begun 2006. Vertical takeoff/vertical landing suborbital tourist spacecraft being developed by Blue Origin and scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2010.

Financed by a dot.com billionaire, a prototype began flight tests from a private west Texas spaceport in November 2006.

Blue Origin was founded and funded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of amazon.com. In common with several of the serious commercial spaceflight endeavors, technical information on New Shepard was scant. Flights were being conducted from a private spaceport at the 165,000-acre Corn Ranch, 40 kilometers north of Van Horn, west Texas. The launch point was reportedly 8 kilometers west of Highway 54. The spaceport included a vehicle processing facility, a launch complex, vehicle landing and recovery areas, an astronaut training facility, lodging, and other support facilities. The launch pad would cover 3,000 square meters; the landing pad would be located 6.1 km north of it.

Based on information given in FAA certification papers and local environmental briefings, New Shepard was similar to the DC-X VTOVL prototype flown by Douglas in the 1990's. However Blue Shepard consisted of two modules: a crew module for at least one pilot and three passengers, and a propulsion module. The overall vehicle was roughly conical. Propulsion would be by 90% hydrogen peroxide and RP-1 kerosene. The spacecraft was said to have a propellant load of 48,534 kg of hydrogen peroxide oxidizer and 5,897 kg of RP-1 kerosene fuel and a thrust of 1020 kN. The mission profile was said to include 110 seconds of powered flight with engine cutoff at 38 km altitude. New Shepard would coast upward to at least 100 km altitude, and then begin its fall back to earth. The total mission duration was said to be 10 minutes. The entire mission would be controlled autonomously by avionics housed in the propulsion module. Propellant retained for the landing maneuver would be 4,083 kg (3,629 kg hydrogen peroxide and 454 kg kerosene).

Normally the crew cabin would remain attached and the normal landing mode would be a vertical rocket landing, with the engines igniting only a few dozen seconds before touchdown.

In early flights or emergencies the crew cabin would separate from the propulsion module using solid rockets, and make its own landing under parachute.

Initial launch, hover, and landing testing of the Goddard subscale prototype, up to 600 m altitude, and lasting up to a minute, began with the first flight on 13 November 2006. A maximum of ten flights were to be made with this craft, followed by around 50 tests of full-scale and incrementally-improved vehicles, up to 100 km altitude, between 2007 and 2009. Revenue service was expected to begin no earlier than 2010. In full service Blue Origin expected to make commercial weekly flights into space. No more than ten shipments of propulsion and / or crew modules were expected to be made from the assembly plant near Seattle, Washington, to the spaceport, between 2006 and 2010 - implying the total in-service fleet would be less than four spacecraft.

Analysis of the available information indicates that the New Shepard's gross takeoff mass would be most likely about 75 metric tons at an average specific impulse of about 2560 seconds (range 71 to 78 metric tons for specific impulses of from 280 to 240 seconds).

Characteristics

Crew Size: 4. Spacecraft delta v: 3,360 m/s (11,020 ft/sec).

Gross mass: 75,000 kg (165,000 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 20,569 kg (45,346 lb).
Height: 15.00 m (49.00 ft).
Diameter: 7.00 m (22.90 ft).
Thrust: 1,020.00 kN (229,300 lbf).
Specific impulse: 260 s.
First Launch: 2006.11.13.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • New Space Tourism With governmental manned space programs flagging, it seemed by the 21st Century that only civilian investors, building systems for toursim, might keep manned spaceflight alive... More...
  • VTOVL The concept of a reusable single-stage-to-orbit Vertical Take-Off Vertical Landing (VTOVL) launch vehicle that would reenter and return to its launch site for turnaround and relaunch was first proposed by Philip Bono in the 1960's. The appealing simplicity of the concept has been offset by the technological risk in developing it. The problem with any single-stage-to-orbit concept is that if the empty weight of the final vehicle has been underestimated it will not be able to deliver any payload to orbit, or even reach orbit. Since weight growth of up to 20% is not unknown in aerospace projects, this is a very real threat which has made both NASA and private investors reluctant to invest the billions of dollars it would take to develop a full-scale flight vehicle. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Associated Propellants
  • H2O2/Kerosene Hydrogen peroxide is used as both an oxidiser and a monopropellant. Relatively high density and non-toxic, it was abandoned after early use in British rockets, but recently revived as a propellant for the Black Horse spaceplane. Rocket propellant RP-1, or its foreign equivalents, is a straight-run kerosene fraction, which is subjected to further treatment, i.e., acid washing, sulphur dioxide extraction. Thus, unsaturated substances which polymerise in storage are removed, as are sulphur-containing hydrocarbons. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Blue Origin Blue Origin was founded and funded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of amazon.com. Commercial space passenger service would be conducted from a private spaceport at the 165,000-acre Corn Ranch, 40 kilometers north of Van Horn, west Texas. The launch point would be 8 kilometers west of Highway 54. The spaceport included a vehicle processing facility, a launch complex, vehicle landing and recovery area, an astronaut training facility, lodging, and other support facilities. The launch pad covered 3,000 square meters; the landing pad would be located 6.1 km north of it. More...

New Shepard Chronology


2006 November 13 - . Launch Site: Blue Origin. Launch Vehicle: New Shepard.
  • First test launch of New Shepard subscale prototype - . Nation: USA. Agency: Blue Origin. Class: Manned. Type: Manned rocketplane. Spacecraft: New Shepard. The test vehicle, dubbed Goddard, lifted off and landed vertically, and reached 90 m altitude. The launch, delayed twice for winds, came at the end of a three-day FAA-approved window. Video and pictures issued indicated that the test vehicle was a subscale (about 84%) version of the final manned vehicle; and that it used a hydrogen peroxide monopropellant rocket engines in place of the hydrogen peroxide/kerosene engines planned for the production vehicle.

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