New Shepard suborbital vehicle was launched on August 25 by Blue Origin with educational and research payloads as the firm prepared for its next crewed flight, which is scheduled for later this year.
The New Shepard took off from the firm’s Launch Site One situated in West Texas at exactly 10:31 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday. A total of two holds occurred during the countdown, the first of which was for an unexplained vehicle issue and the second of which was for a rough half-hour hold for what the corporation described as a “payload readiness issue.”
The crew capsule achieved a maximum height of 105.9 kilometres before coming to a safe landing under the parachutes 10 minutes plus 15 seconds after taking off from the launch pad. The vehicle’s booster had successfully completed a powered landing on the neighbouring pad a few minutes earlier.
The launch was originally slated for August 25 but was postponed by one day. Blue Origin said in a statement on August 23 that it was trying to verify a fix for a payload integration concern and that it was taking an additional look before taking off.
There were 18 research payloads onboard the spacecraft, 11 of which were funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, onboard the mission. As part of the powered landing of the booster, a second NASA experiment placed on the vehicle’s exterior collected data to evaluate a computer system and a sensor intended for future lunar landers.
As a component of an art initiative by Uplift Aerospace, the vehicle also contained paintings by Amoako Boafo. This Ghanaian artist was displayed on the parachute coverings of the capsule.
This mission was the very first for New Shepard after its first crewed flight, which took place on July 20 from Launch Site One, was completed. Using a different launcher and capsule from this flight, the launch carried firm founder Jeff Bezos together with his brother Mark, Wally Funk, as well as Oliver Daemen to an elevation of over100 kilometres before landing ten minutes after lift-off, according to Bezos.
During the New Shepard launch webcast, company executives stated that the next crewed mission of the spacecraft would take place “soon,” although they did not provide a more exact timetable. At the time of the July 20 trip, the business stated that it planned to conduct two additional crewed flights this year. There is a backlog of about $100 million in orders at the firm, but the company has not stated how many consumers have registered for flights.