When SpaceX launches a rocket, you know about it, thanks to a huge amount of publicity and a live webcast to boot. The same isn’t true for their competitor Blue Origin, though, who perform their launches shrouded in secrecy.
Well, until now. The company has revealed that for its next launch on Friday, it will stream it live online for anyone to watch.
On Twitter, CEO Jeff Bezos said that this launch, which is the fourth flight of their reusable New Shepard vehicle, will have a live webcast over at Blue Origin’s website. We don’t know what time the launch is going to be yet, but given that their other launches from their site in West Texas have been in daylight, you can expect it sometime during the day.
This mission will be slightly different to their previous launches. Before, we’ve seen the rocket fly up to a height of just over 100 kilometers (62 miles), before returning to Earth via a powered landing, and with its capsule separating and parachuting to the ground.
This time around, the capsule is going to intentionally experience a parachute failure to show how the capsule would be saved in an emergency. Note that Blue Origin wants to eventually start taking people into space, so proving it is safe is important.
“A parachute failure is a credible scenario in even the most carefully designed recovery system, so a robust vehicle needs to accommodate that possibility through redundancies and margin designed and built into each subsystem that protects the astronauts during landing,” Bezos explained in an emailed statement. “The New Shepard crew capsule is designed to safely land the crew even in the event of a parachute failure.”
One of the three main parachutes, above, will intentionally fail. Blue Origin
Bezos said they would intentionally fail one drogue (trailing) parachute and one main parachute during descent, about 7.5 minutes after launching at an altitude of 7,300 meters (24,000 feet). The capsule will then land with the help of its remaining parachutes, and also a crushable base and retro rockets, which will fire to slow it down just a few feet above the ground.
All in all, it should be quite exciting, so make sure you tune in on Friday.