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Falcon 9 uses hydraulic cylinders with RP-1 fuel as the hydraulic fluid to actuate the engine gimbals. They do this for stage 1 and stage 2, both of which use RP-1 for fuel.

But New Glenn uses methane for stage 1 and liquid hydrogen for stage 2. New Shepard uses liquid hydrogen exclusively. So I’m wondering if either of these fuels would make a suitable hydraulic fluid, and whether Blue Origin might have chosen electrical gimbal actuators instead (like I believe Elektron has)?

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Partial answer:

According to a parts supplier, New Shepard uses a hydraulic system.

JASC designed and manufactured the Flight Control System Actuators and the engine Thrust Vector Control Actuators used on New Shepard. Both of these actuators are servo-hydraulic units, with the former used to steer the vehicle and provide aerodynamic stability, and the latter to vector the engine/nozzle for the same purpose.

Source: JASC website post New Shepard Space Vehicle Makes Fifth Flight

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh wow! Thanks! This is super helpful. So hydraulics both for the engine gimbal actuators and the steering fins---and probably also for the drag fins, I would imagine. $\endgroup$ – user39728 May 7 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ And in fact, the JASC website you linked to shows a picture of an actuator that is practically identical to the ones I've seen in pictures of Falcon 9 engine gimbal actuators. I wouldn't be surprised if SpaceX and Blue Origin were both using JASC as their hydraulic actuator supplier. $\endgroup$ – user39728 May 7 at 22:25

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