Blue Origin is set to make a major comeback as it plans to launch its New Shepard suborbital vehicle for the first time in over 15 months. The launch will take place at the company’s West Texas test site, with a tentative date of December 18.
This upcoming flight will be uncrewed but will carry an impressive payload of 33 experiments and 38,000 postcards from Club for the Future. It’s an exciting opportunity for scientific research and for individuals to send their messages into space.
The mishap that occurred over a year ago took place during a September 2022 flight. A problem with the main engine led to the crew capsule’s abort motor being triggered. Blue Origin conducted a rigorous investigation and found that the engine suffered a structural failure of its nozzle, due to operating temperatures that exceeded design limitations.
Following the incident, Blue Origin was required to undertake 21 corrective actions as identified by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. After months of diligently working towards meeting these requirements, the FAA closed the investigation in September. Blue Origin wasted no time in announcing that it would soon resume flights.
For a while, there was speculation surrounding Blue Origin’s commitment to the New Shepard vehicle. Some speculated that the company might decrease its emphasis on or even phase out the New Shepard. However, this comeback launch reaffirms Blue Origin’s dedication to suborbital space tourism.
In contrast, Virgin Galactic has already launched its commercial service with its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle. However, the company has announced plans to eventually halt these flights, shifting its focus towards the development of new suborbital vehicles.
It’s important to note that Blue Origin has also been actively involved in other exciting projects. This includes a NASA contract for its Blue Moon lunar lander, as well as the development of an orbital transfer vehicle and commercial space station. The company’s ambitions extend far beyond just their suborbital vehicle, showcasing their commitment to the broader space exploration industry.
As we look forward to the New Shepard’s return to flight, it’s evident that Blue Origin is determined to maintain its presence in the competitive space tourism market. With their groundbreaking projects and focus on advancements in space technology, Blue Origin continues to make waves within the industry.