Getting a free flight for 3min of microgravity for your experiment, even on a rocket that is as experimental as your payload, may have many advantages but it certainly is not entirely without strings
Following the revelation on Blue Origin’s infrequently updated website that three science payloads have been selected to fly on the New Shepard rocket Hyperbola contacted two of the three principal investigators
Could they shed light on the plans of what must be the world’s most secretive commercial launch programme? Nope
The University of Central Florida’s Josh Colwell told Hyperbola: “I’m not at liberty to disclose the schedule milestones for the experiment.”
He could tell Hyperbola that he’d be delivering the experiment to the Blue Origin launch site in Texas and interestingly mentioned that it would be an “early flight” for New Shepard – so when is its first?
While Purdue University professor Steven Collicott felt able to go a little further on timing saying, “I’ll be delivering the experiment within a year”
Both said that their experiments would be recoverable and that they used on-board video so telemetry was not an issue
Collicott was particularly enthusiastic about the future of microgravity research using relatively cheap and frequent suborbital vehicle flights even if the 3min window New Shepard or Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo would deliver was less than half the 7min NASA’s sounding rockets could provide