Why Blue Origin will intentionally crash its spaceship during the next test flight

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May 27, 2016, 1:27 PM EDT (Updated)

Blue Origin is having a good bit of success launching and landing its New Shepard rocket, and now the private space firm is getting ready to crash one. On purpose.

On the next test flight, the company plans to crash-land an empty crew capsule to see how much damage it would sustain in the event of a catastrophic failure. The capsule is equipped with an emergency parachute, though for this test the parachute will not deploy — creating a situation for a full-on crash. It’s also worth noting this test will be done using the same rocket Blue Origin has successfully launched, and landed twice already.

"On this upcoming mission we also plan to stress the crew capsule by landing with an intentionally failed parachute, demonstrating our ability to safely handle that failure scenario," Bezos writes in an email update via The Verge. "It promises to be an exciting demonstration."

Along with crashing the capsule, Blue Origin also intends to test out some more complicated maneuvers with the rocket, to see how it responds under different flight scenarios. Bezos said the test is a critical step forward in the company’s efforts to make the craft safer with each subsequent launch.

That’s important, since these are the same shuttles that will be ferrying armchair astronauts (aka space tourists) to the Karman line a full 62 miles above the Earth. Blue Origin hopes to start tours in 2018, with plans to offer approximately four minutes of weightlessness with each flight. These trips will not go all the way into orbit, though.

Here's hoping this mock crash will generate enough intel to avoid a real one.

(Via The Verge)

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