Completing their stay at NASA, Blue Origin successfully demonstrated their modules pusher escape system, designed to save the crew of their craft in case of any serious malfunction.
Blue Origin have been at a couple of NASA test facilities in recent weeks to test aspects of their design for NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program, an initiative to set up commercial space capability through private enterprise. We’ve already seen the results of their engine test, by all reports a significant success.
Last week (I know, I’m sorry I’ve been terrible with updates – I’ve had a lot going on) Blue Origin successfully tested their pusher module escape system – a system that fires additional rockets to separate their New Sheppard crew module from the rest of the craft in case of any catastrophic malfunction.
In the past crew escape systems have functioned as “puller” systems – a rocket on top of the crew module to pull the module away from the rest of the launch vehicle. Even if it is not used, it typically needs to be jettisoned before the astronauts within the capsule can be rescued. Using a pusher system allows the system to remain with the craft, reducing costs from discarded equipment.
In this respect, its sort of like a car airbag – it will always be part of the capsule (car) but it wont actually be deployed until its needed.
Blue Origin are notoriously secretive about their CCD program – they have a total of five updates about the entirety of their program going back to the 2008 on their website.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin reportedly had this comment: “The first test of our suborbital Crew Capsule is a big step on the way to safe, affordable space travel. This wouldn’t have been possible without NASA’s help, and the Blue Origin team worked hard and smart to design this system, build it, and pull off this test. Lots of smiles around here today. Gradatim Ferociter!”