Blue Origin tests a giant nose cone for its orbital rocket

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture is still months away from the first launch of its orbital-class New Glenn rocket, but tests that were recently conducted at NASA’s Glenn Research Center are boosting confidence that the rocket’s cavernous nose cone, or fairing, will work as intended.

In a video released today via Twitter and Instagram, Blue Origin touted the first jettison test of the 7-meter-wide (23-foot-wide) fairing at Glenn Research Center’s Armstrong Test Facility Space Environments Complex in Ohio. The test was designed to ensure that the fairing would split apart cleanly to allow for payload deployment.

The complex houses the world’s largest vacuum chamber, measuring 100 feet in diameter and 122 feet in height. “It’s the only place in the world that we can test out this fairing in an environment similar to what the rocket will be seeing in space,” said Shawna Sherwood Ryan, a project manager and test conductor at Blue Origin.

Blue Origin said the test “validated acoustics, cleanliness and environments that payload customers are expecting.”

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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