Blue Origin will soon use its New Shepard reusable rocket in what would be the spacecraft's first flight since last September.
This goal, which Blue Origin revealed on Tuesday, comes about fifteen months after its New Shepard suborbital flights were halted following a failure on September 12, 2022, which its NS-23 mission suffered. This flight had no one on board.
The aerospace company, founded by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, said it was aiming for “a launch window opening on December 18 for our next New Shepard payload mission.”
The accident that led to the pause in New Shepard flights led to an investigation of the company that, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, was closed a few months ago.
“The final report cites the immediate cause of the September 12, 2022 accident as structural failure of an engine nozzle caused by higher than expected engine operating temperatures,” the FAA said in its press release at the time. . “The FAA required Blue Origin to implement 21 corrective actions to prevent accident recurrence, including redesigning engine and nozzle components to improve structural performance during operation, as well as organizational changes.”
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Blue Origin said Tuesday that the mission it wants to fly next week “will carry 33 science and research payloads as well as 38,000 @clubforfuture postcards into space.”
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Club for the Future is a foundation linked to Blue Origin that aims to “inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space,” according to its website. The nonprofit said it adds a “Flown to Space” stamp to postcards and sends them back to their authors once they are transported on a New Shepard flight.
The NS-24 flight would bring Blue Origin's total for New Shepard to 24. Of all the missions it has flown with the rocket, six have brought humans on suborbital trips.
The New Shepard rocket itself can accommodate six crew members and is named after legendary American astronaut Alan Shepard, according to Blue Origin. Its flights typically last 11 minutes.
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Blue Origin, which has its New Glenn rocket under construction, has existed since 2000. It also works with NASA, having been tapped in May to build a lunar module.
Daniella Genovese contributed to this report.