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Details on Blue Origin Launch Site and Recovery

There are some great details about Blue Origin’s future launch site—and some details about their stage recovery mechanisms—in the permit application for LC-11 and -36 work. The good details are hidden in the Drainage Analysis Technical Memorandum (PDF, 37MB).

The OLV is a multi-stage launch system capable of carrying either the Blue Origin Space Vehicle (SV) spacecraft with participants and/or crew, or carry the Payload Accommodations (PA) which would be comprised of one or more Spacecraft (SC) in a Payload Fairing (PLF). The launch vehicle’s 1st Stage and SV are reusable and designed to be flown numerous times. Present plans call for returning first stages for a landing on a downrange ocean-going platform, and return it to a facility for reuse.

Some nice hints there about their crew vehicle, plans for payload ride sharing, and ocean-based recoveries.

The major elements of the redevelopment at LC-11 and LC-36 include a Launch Pad, Integration Facility, Engine Assembly and Control Building, Launch Vehicle Refurbishment Facility, Engine Test Stand, systems to recover and refurbish reusable space systems (1st Stage and SV), new roadway corridors, updated utilities, and a stormwater management system. 

After arrival at the Integration Facility, the 1st Stage and 2nd Stage, and a possible 3rd Stage, would then be mated together and integrated onto the Transporter Erector system. Following integration of the booster stages, the SV (or PA) would be attached, and then the entire system would undergo a readiness test. The OLV would then be transported from the Integration Facility to the Launch Pad and erected for launch. After a successful launch the first stage would return to the Earth for recovery in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 750 nautical miles downrange in the Atlantic Ocean, east of and well off the Carolina coast, and any payload or capsule would land under parachute at a yet to be determined land site in Texas.

Engines will be tested near the pad, as you can see in the rendering of the new site (right side). Also sounds like no vertical integration in this initial phase.

As far as recovery, an ocean-going platform “east of and well off the Carolina coast” sounds useful for flights to the ISS and similar high-inclination orbits. High-inclination orbits are great for tourism, because it flies passengers over much more of the Earth’s surface than a lower inclination orbit would.

Still a mystery to me what their plans would be for flights to GTO or other lower inclination destinations.