Early Prototype New Shepard Vehicle

Early Prototype New Shepard Vehicle

The New Shepard system will provide frequent opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into suborbital space.

The New Shepard vehicle consists of a pressurized Crew Capsule carrying experiments atop a Propulsion Module. Flight of the New Shepard vehicle begins with the combined vehicles launching vertically from our West Texas Launch Site, accelerating for approximately two and a half minutes before the Propulsion Module shuts off its rocket engines and coasts into space. The Crew Capsule will then separate from the Propulsion Module. The two vehicles will reenter and land separately near the launch site: The Propulsion Module will autonomously perform a rocket-powered vertical landing; the Crew Capsule will land under parachutes. Both vehicles will be recovered and reused.

Experiment Accommodations

Research experiments can take sensor readings of space, the sky and the Earth, and will experience high-quality microgravity environments (less than 0.001 g) for three or more minutes, depending on the mission trajectory. For microgravity experiments, Blue Origin has developed a Cabin Payload Bay in two standard sizes.

Cabin Payload Bays

Accommodation Single Size Double Size
  Cabin Payload Bay - Single Size

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Cabin Payload Bay - Double Size

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Experiment Volume 1.67 ft3
0.0473 m3
3.61 ft3
0.102 m3
Approximate Interior Dimensions 20.13 x 16.45 x 8.92 inches
51.13 x 41.78 x. 22.65 cm
(less hinge area)
20.13 x 16.45 x 19.27 inches
51.13 x 41.78 x 48.94 cm
(less hinge area)
Experiment Mass 25 pounds
11.34 kg
50 pounds
22.68 kg
Power 28 VDC provided
Data Recording Experiment data storage provided for post-flight download with synchronized trajectory parameter measurements
In-Flight Communications Low data rate link for experiment telemetry and control
Experiment Configuration Software Blue Origin's REMConfig software available to configure experiment command sequence, such as turning on sensors and other apparatus when micro-gravity is reached

Payload Bay Configuration

Researchers install experiment(s) inside each Cabin Payload Bay. Several Bays are then grouped and mounted together into a rack atop an Avionics Cabin Payload Bay supplying experiment power, data processing and data storage for flight aboard the New Shepard Crew Capsule.

Blue Origin is developing a Payload User’s Guide for configuring experiments in Cabin Payload Bays, including detailed descriptions of dimensions, power supply, interfaces, REMConfig software, and support equipment.

In addition to Cabin Payload Bays, other research accommodations are possible aboard the New Shepard vehicle by special arrangement. Researchers will have the opportunity to provide their own racks to mount into the Crew Capsule, and external sensors are also possible. The New Shepard system can readily accommodate many experiments under 265 pounds / 120 kg; larger experiments are possible but will require more highly-specialized arrangements.

Research Opportunities

Blue Origin expects opportunities for autonomous or remotely-controlled suborbital research experiments and demonstrations during flight testing of the Crew Capsule.

Blue Origin is currently working with researchers to demonstrate integration and operation of scientific experiments aboard the New Shepard system. The three research projects in our initial Flight Demonstration Program are:

  • Three-Dimensional Critical Wetting Experiment in Microgravity. Principal investigator: Dr. Steven Collicott, Purdue University
  • Microgravity Experiment on Dust Environments in Astrophysics (MEDEA). Principal investigator: Dr. Joshua Colwell, University of Central Florida
  • Effective Interfacial Tension Induced Convection (EITIC). Co-Investigators: Dr. Patrick Bunton, William Jewell College & Dr. John A. Pojman, Louisiana State University