Blue Origin officially confirmed, that they are planning to conduct abort test of their New Shepard launch vehicle tomorrow, at their test facility placed near Van Horn in Texas.
This test flight will be fifth mission of Blue Origin since its first flight with soft landing performed on 23 November 2015 (first flight was performed in fact on 29 April 2015, but during this flight booster failed to land and crashed). It was planned for today, but due the poor weather conditions Blue Origin decided to give themselves another 24 hours. Launch was set to start around 16:00 GMT with live broadcast starting at 14:45 GMT.
During this planned experimental flight Blue Origin will confirm that their innovative rescue system is reliable solution in emergency situations. Whole procedure will be quite similar to ordinary launch to simulate as close as possible conditions during real flight with crew members inside capsule. New Shepard will start its flight and continue its flight after it reaches 840 km/h and altitude of 4800 m in T+45″. Then capsule will be jettisoned and pushed by solid rocket motors (previously systems were rather based on special jettisoned single use boom with motors installed above capsule) it will enter own trajectory to gradually increase distance from booster. After two seconds capsule will cut off rocket motors and start stabilizing thrusters to avoid tumbling and set itself in correct orientation to ground. After passing sound barrier and reaching peek altitude of planned trajectory, capsule will deploy drag parachutes (of course in case of being positioned correctly) and after reducing speed, it will deploy three main parachutes. Touch down will be conducted in ordinary way, with all three parachutes deployed and utilization of solid rocket thrusters for final speed reduction.
Every system used by capsule during test is exactly same as used during previous flights, so in spite of testing emergency systems, every other part of capsule will go through additional shock test. It will show any possible mistake in design which could be potentially risky for crew members.
During this flight its booster, legendary NS-2, which gave Blue Origin so much glory in 2015 and 2016 will finally end its operational life in its fifth mission. After separation it will still continue flight and it will run landing sequence, but due the lower altitude (4.8 km instead 100 km) and fuel remaining inside tanks it will not be able to control its flight as usual. Probably it will crash during landing, of course if it will not fail after receiving strong kick from separating capsule.
On picture above: Capsule over Van Horn facility, slightly before touch down. Picture is courtesy of Blue Origin.