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VEHICLE COMPARISON
BLUE ORIGIN NEW SHEPARD
SPACEX FALCON 9
Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital booster
and SpaceX's Falcon 9 suborbital booster may
look alike at first glance. However, the Falcon 9
carries a staggering 130 tons at launch while
New Shepard carries only 5.
The two vehicles are, in fact, completely different
designs for two completely different purposes.
Blue Origin's booster is designed to carry a single
crew capsule to space (100 kilometers up), while
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster (and the Falcon 9
upper stage) bring payload to orbit. This requires
about four times as much total energy as New
Shepard's 100.5km hop into space.
New Shepard's trajectory brings it up and back
down with only two burns: a launch burn and a
landing burn. The Falcon 9, on the other hand,
has to deliver (with the upper stage) a payload
to orbit. This means that the Falcon 9 has to
angle itself towards the horizon during launch;
at stage separation (when the upper stage
detaches to complete the mission), the Falcon 9
booster is travelling faster horizontally than
vertically. This velocity is reversed with three
more engine restarts (four including the launch).
The boostback burn brings the vehicle's trajectory
back towards land. However, the booster will
reenter the atmosphere at a speed far too fast to
survive. So at an altitude of about 70km, three
of the engines are restarted to slow the vehicle
down before it hits the thicker, lower parts of the
atmosphere. When the entry burn ends, the
Falcon 9 booster is only 40km above the ocean,
on a trajectory that will drop it harmlessly into
the ocean in case of a failed landing burn.
The third, critical, burn the Falcon 9 performs is
the landing burn. This is a single-engine burn,
starting about 30 seconds before touchdown.
The single center engine reignites a final time
as the vehicle plummets towards the ground;
the grid fins reorient the vehicle and push it
towards the landing pad, and about 5 seconds
from touchdown, the landing legs unfold and the
booster touches down on the landing pad.

BLUE ORIGIN

In closing, it's unfair to compare the two vehicles.
New Shepard is designed for several minutes of
microgravity, while Falcon 9 is designed to carry
satellites into orbit. The vehicles perform their
respective tasks admirably.

BLUE ORIGIN NEW SHEPARD

SPACEX FALCON 9

~40

WET MASS

~ 450

~12

HEIGHT

~ 48

~3

DIAMETER

3.7

1.2

VELOCITY

~ 1.6

dV

~ 8.5

PAYLOAD

~ 130

~3.5
~5
110,000

tons

meters

meters

km/s at sep

km/s of booster

tons at sep

THRUST

sea level, pounds

zlsadesign

1,530,000


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