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Flight Plans Newsletter

Blue Origin Charon Test Vehicle

Charon sits on the launchpad at Moses Lake, Washington.
Manufacturer: Blue Origin
Model: Charon
Year: 2005
Power Plant: 4 Rolls-Royce Viper Mk. 301 jet engines. 3,000 lbf at 13,760 rpm

The Blue Origin "Charon" Flying Vehicle arrives at The Museum of Flight


A closeup of the "Charon" Flying Vehicle in the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery


The "Charon" Flying Vehicle on display in the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery

Blue Origin Charon Test Vehicle

Charon is an early, low-altitude test vehicle developed by Blue Origin of Kent, Washington. With its vertically oriented jet engines, Charon served as a precursor to the company’s development of a family of reusable space launch vehicles. These vehicles will use rocket engines to lift off vertically, fly to space, then return to again use their rocket engines in a carefully controlled powered vertical landing.

Built by a small team at Blue Origin, the Charon vehicle consists of a welded aluminum airframe holding four Rolls-Royce Viper Mk.301 jet engines. Charon’s direction of travel was controlled by redirecting the thrust from these engines. Four jointed legs serve as landing gear.

Blue Origin successfully flew Charon at Moses Lake, Washington on March 5, 2005. The fully autonomous vehicle flew to an altitude of 316 feet (96.3 m) before returning to a controlled landing near its liftoff point. Blue Origin continues to use processes developed on the Charon project in building and testing its more advanced rocket-powered vehicles today, including the New Shepard family of suborbital vehicles.