May 1, 2012
Secretive Private Aerospace Company Building Reusable Rocket
Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com
Blue Origin, a space flight company established by Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos, is in the process of developing reusable rockets.
The secretive company released details about its plans sparingly in a press release about a design test for its "next-generation Space Vehicle."
Blue Origin said its spacecraft completed a series of wind tunnel tests to "refine the aerodynamic characters" of the Space Vehicle's biconic shape.
It said the tests were carried out as part of the company's partnership with NASA under the Commercial Crew Development (CCD) program.
The Space Vehicle, according to the press release, is designed to take up to seven astronauts to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.
“Our Space Vehicle´s innovative biconic shape provides greater cross-range and interior volume than traditional capsules without the weight penalty of winged spacecraft,” Rob Meyerson, president and program manager of Blue Origin, said in a press release. “This is just one of the vehicle´s many features that enhance the safety and affordability of human spaceflight, a goal we share with NASA.”
Blue Origin said the wind tunnel tests validated its analysis of the Space Vehicle's aerodynamics during descent through the atmosphere.
"More than 180 tests were conducted over the past several weeks at Lockheed Martin´s High Speed Wind Tunnel Facility in Dallas," the company said in a statement.
Blue Origin will be conducting tests of its escape system later this year, which will demonstrate the ability to control the flight path of a sub scale crew capsule using an innovative thrust vector control system, according to the press release.
The private aerospace firm is also conducting tests of the thrust chamber assembly for its liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen rocket engine.
Blue Origin was founded in 2000, and the company says it has a long-term vision of increasing the number of people that fly into space through low-cost, highly reliable commercial space transportation.
This is not the only time Blue Origin has made headlines with its spacecraft projects. Last year, the company's Shepherd spacecraft crashed during a developmental test at Mach 1.2 at an altitude of 45,000 feet.
Shepherd was the second test vehicle in the company's program to develop a vertical-takeoff-and-landing ship, designed to take two people into suborbital flight.
Blue Origin received $22 million from NASA to help commercial ventures develop space taxis since retiring the shuttle program.
Currently, NASA is supporting development of four companies, including Boeing, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX and Blue Origin.
SpaceX will be launching its Dragon capsule on a test flight to the International Space Station next Monday from Cape Canaveral.
The Dragon capsule is set to be a resupply, reusable spacecraft that could one day be modified to take astronauts up to space as well.