An illustration of New
Glenn, an upcoming,
reuseable Blue Origin
spacecraft expected to
launch in 2020. Photo
Credit: Blue Origin
imentation, convection and gene expression.”
The New Shepard system provides
researchers with a cleaner microgravity
environment, rapid access to space and
more flexible re-flight opportunities, as the
reuse system is more affordable than other
alternatives, said Wagner.
Eventually, Blue Origin plans to provide
private researchers the opportunity to accompany their own experiments into space.
It is designed to carry up to six astronauts,
or their payload equivalent.
In December 2017, New Shepard
launched its seventh mission, the inaugural flight for Crew Capsule 2.0, the
latest version of the vehicle it is creating
to bring astronauts into space for its first
passenger flights. On that same mission,
the company also achieved an exciting
milestone for suborbital research in space,
sending 12 commercial, research and education payloads under full FAA license
for the first time.
The New Shepard Mission 7 (M7)
flight included a wide range of payloads,
ranging from basic and applied microgravity sciences to Earth and space science.
The payloads were on board during
the 11-minute flight to space and back,
with each spending three minutes in a
high-quality microgravity environment at
an apogee around 100 kilometers.
The payloads on this mission included the
Cell Research Experiment in Microgravity
(CRExIM), a partnership between students
and faculty at Embry-Riddle University-Day-
tona, the University of Texas Health Science
Center at San Antonio and the Medical Uni-
versity of South Carolina. The experiment
studied how microgravity affects the cellular
processes of T-cells, which develop from
stem cells in the bone marrow and are key to
immune system function.
Orbital Medicine and Purdue University, with funding from NASA’s Flight
Opportunities Program, sent the Evolved
Medical Microgravity Suction Device on
the M7 flight. The device could assist in the
treatment of a collapsed lung where air and
blood enter the pleural cavity and is able to
collect blood in microgravity and still allow
for the suction to continuously inflate the
lung and allow it to heal.
Other examples of payloads included
on the M7 flight are the JANUS Research
Platform, from Johns Hopkins Universi-ty-Applied Physics Laboratory, a device
which provides researchers with a look
at suborbital flight conditions, and the
Zero-Gravity Glow Experiment (ZGGE), a
project run by Purdue University with help
from students at Cumberland Elementary
School. The ZGGE payload operates by
mixing the appropriate chemicals during
the weightless coast period of the vehicle’s
mission and observing the response with a
miniature video camera.
Following the success of New Shepard,
Blue Origin is in the process of building
and launching New Glenn, which features
more than twice the payload volume of any
5-meter class commercial launch system.
The spacecraft will offer unrivaled lift to low
earth and geostationary orbits with seven
BE- 4 engines powering a reusable first
stage. It is expected to launch in 2020.
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