US venture reveals target of 100 launches from Texas over three to five years

Blue Origin, formed by billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, plans to begin flight testing a fully reusable launch vehicle (RLV) from Culberson County, Texas in the fourth quarter of 2006. The RLV will have a propulsion module that uses hydrogen peroxide and kerosene fuel, and a crew capsule to carry at least three people beyond an altitude of 325,000ft (100,000m) on a suborbital ballistic trajectory.

The unnamed RLV will be developed, built and transported to Texas by Seattle-based Blue Origin, which plans more than 100 test flights over three to five years before commercial services begin.

The vehicle will be launched vertically from a concrete pad and be autonomously controlled unless there is an in-flight problem, when ground control would intervene. Under normal conditions the RLV, similar in concept to the McDonnell Douglas DC-X test flown in the early 1990s, will land vertically at a second concrete pad.

Details of the project were revealed when Blue Origin’s programme manager Rob Meyerson and launch operations manager Edward Rutkowski held public meetings in Texas last month as part of the environmental impact assessment process required for licensing by the US Federal Aviation Administration’s office of commercial space transport.

Source: Flight International