Blue Origin will risk blowing up one of its rockets to test the crew escape system, and stream it live

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Sep 9, 2016

Though SpaceX is still reeling from an accidental rocket explosion that damaged one of the company’s launch sites, fellow private space firm Blue Origin is preparing to potentially blow up one of its rockets on purpose. For safety reasons, of course.

The Verge reports Jeff Bezos’ space company is gearing up for a live test of its vehicle escape system aboard the New Shepard rocket. The test will essentially fake a catastrophic failure and trigger the escape mechanism within the crew capsule, which will fire off a small booster under the crew capsule designed to jettison any potential astronauts clear of the explosion.

Blue Origin isn’t actually planing to blow up the rocket on purpose for the test, but by triggering the escape system, it’ll blast a whole lot of heat down on the rocket — which will almost certainly damage or destroy it (though Blue Origin is hopeful it could still prove salvageable). If it does survive, Blue Origin is already planning a retirement party, complete with a spot in a museum.

Luckily for all of us, the company is planning to livestream the launch and test, so we'll be able to follow along to see how it goes. No pressure, guys.

As the company prepares to start preliminary human flights in 2017, ahead of missions in 2018, this test is a critical proving step to show Blue Origin’s tech can successfully keep astronauts safe. As we’re all acutely aware — space is dangerous. So, let’s do as much as we can to mitigate that fact.


(Via The Verge)