Blue Origin’s Space Vehicle Completes Wind Tunnel Tests

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Kent, Wash.-based Blue Origin said April 26 that it recently completed a series of wind tunnel tests aimed at validating the novel shape of the reusable spacecraft it is developing under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program.

“Our Space Vehicle’s innovative biconic shape provides greater cross-range and interior volume than traditional capsules without the weight penalty of winged spacecraft. 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 President Rob Meyerson said in a press release, the secretive company’s first public update since December.

Blue Origin said more than 180 wind tunnel tests conducted in March and April at Lockheed Martin’s High Speed Wind Tunnel Facility in Dallas validated Blue Origin’s analysis of the Space Vehicle’s aerodynamics during re-entry, including its ability to change its flight path — a capability that would increase the number of landing opportunities the vehicle would have each day.

Blue Origin is using the $22 million it was awarded under the second round NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program to conduct tests of the thrust chamber assembly for the BE-3, a 100,000-pound-thrust-class liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen engine recently installed on the E-1 test stand at NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Blue Origin also plans to conduct a test of a pusher escape system later this year. The test is designed to demonstrate the ability to control the flight path of a subscale crew capsule using what Blue Origin describes as “an innovative thrust vector control system.”