Blue Origin's New Shepard Rocket Soars in Uncrewed Science Mission


Blue Origin's New Shepard Rocket Soars in Uncrewed Science Mission
© Getty Images News/Mario Tama

Blue Origin, the aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company founded by Jeff Bezos, marked a significant achievement with the successful launch of its tourism rocket, New Shepard. On Tuesday morning, the rocket took off at 11:43 a.m.

ET from the company's West Texas facilities, embarking on an uncrewed science mission that carried 33 science experiments to the edge of space. The mission was a showcase of precision and technological prowess, with the rocket booster returning to Earth approximately seven minutes after launch, followed by the capsule's safe landing ten minutes post-launch.

This achievement follows a minor setback on Monday, when the first launch attempt was scrubbed due to a ground system issue. However, Tuesday's launch proceeded smoothly, with mission control efficiently navigating through the team's list of objectives.

Though the flight did not have any passengers, its success represents a pivotal step for Blue Origin as it gears up to resume space trips for eager adventurers.

"We look forward to flying our next crewed flight soon," announced Erika Wagner, Blue Origin's senior director of emerging market development, during the live launch broadcast.

Beyond Tourism: Blue Origin's Ambitious Projects

The return of New Shepard to flight operations comes amidst Blue Origin's ambitious efforts to develop New Glenn, a massive rocket designed to transport satellites and other significant payloads into orbit.

This project, although delayed, stands as a testament to the company's expansive vision in the space industry. The New Glenn rocket is set to be powered by BE-4 engines, which will also fuel a new line of rockets developed by United Launch Alliance, a collaborative venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The upcoming Vulcan Centaur rocket, part of United Launch Alliance's fleet, is scheduled for its inaugural mission in January, aiming to deliver a NASA-sponsored lunar lander. In addition, New Glenn has an important mission lined up, potentially transporting a NASA satellite to study the magnetosphere around Mars as early as next year.

Bezos, reflecting on the upcoming launches, shared his apprehensions in a recent podcast interview.

“Every launch I go to, I’m always nervous. A first launch — to have no nervousness about that — would be some sign of derangement,” he admitted.

Jeff Bezos