On October 5th, Blue Origin, a private spaceflight company started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, successfully completed an in-flight escape test. Blue Origin is attempting to develop reusable rockets first for space tourism in the suborbital atmosphere, but eventually to enable individuals to be able to live and work in space.
The safety feature that was tested ensures that future users of Blue Origin rockets will be safe even in the event of a malfunction. The escape feature allows the crew capsule to separate from the rest of the rocket in case of an emergency. The capsule is propelled away from the main body of the rocket and then carried safely to the ground using parachutes. This will ensure that all passengers are kept safe if their is any sort of problem with the main body of the rocket.
The separation of these two pieces of the spacecraft can be thought of as a perfectly inelastic collision. This means that we know mRvR
= mBvB + mCvC to be true where R is the full rocket, B is the booster which the capsule C is seperating from. Since this is perfectly inelastic a large amount of energy which comes in the form of the propulsion from the capsules rocket, is needed to allow this seperation to occur. After the separation the capsule experiences a large external force which once applied will mean that the system which we originally considered will not follow conservation of momentum. Only in the instant during which the seperation occurs can the system be modeled using our above equation. In order two seperate the two pieces a rocket on the bottom of the crew capsule fired for 1.8 seconds exerting 70,000 lbs or about 310,000 Newtons of force. Knowing this we can calculate the impulse or change in momentum of the capsule after it seperates.
Impulse = (310,000 N)(1.8 s) = 560,000 Ns.
Using this technology along with many of the other groundbreaking technologies being created by Blue Origin along with other private spaceflight companies it is possible that in the not too distant future space travel could be very safe, affordable, and commonplace.