Ariane V completed another flawless mission from Kourou, French Guiana yesterday, placing into orbit Sky Muster 2 for Australia and GSAT 18 for India. Both are geosynchronous commsats, the mainstay of Ariane V’s customer base.
And also yesterday, Blue Origin completed the fifth flight of their New Shepherd reusable suborbital rocket. This flight did continue to test the rocket, but that wasn’t the main focus. This mission was an inflight abort test. The booster did not simulate an emergency; after the spacecraft separated, it continued merrily along its way (albeit at lower thrust to compensate for the loss of mass) and returned neatly to Earth on its own. The escape looked a bit, well, “blarg-tastic” is the word that came to mind for me, as it yawed around dramatically. I would bet that Blue Origin will be studying the data from sensors inside to make sure G-loads didn’t exceed human tolerance; the point of an escape isn’t to be comfy, but to be survivable. Nevertheless, this fifth flight is expected to be the final flight for this particular vehicle.