Blue Origin resumes human space tourism flights, Sunday launch


After a nearly two-year break, Jeff Bezos’ aerospace technology company Blue Origin is back to business – the space tourism company announced its seventh manned flight will blast off this coming Sunday from its launch site in West Texas.

The reusable rocket developer will lift off from Launch Site One in West Texas on Sunday, May 19th, all factors permitting, with a launch window estimated to open at 8:30 a.m. CDT.

The NS-25 mission will be the seventh human flight for the New Shepard program and the 25th in its history.

Blue Origin had paused all human flights following a September 2022 mission failure, triggering an investigation by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which was closed last year.

The FAA findings included 21 corrective actions – including an engine redesign and "organizational changes" – Blue Origin’s had to perform in order to get the green light needed to resume crewed operations.

An internal investigation matched the FAA findings.

The 2022 mission failure, involving the same New Shepard spacecraft scheduled to blast off Sunday, caused the rocket's capsule to safely eject mid-flight, roughly a minute after lift-off.

The flight, although free of any crew and passengers, was filled with multiple payloads of NASA experiments.

For this Sunday’s flight, the New Shepard will take an 11-minute journey past the Kármán line – known as the internationally recognized boundary of space, about 100 KM or 62 miles above mean sea level.

Once past the line, a six-seater, environmentally controlled pressurized crew capsule, separates from the craft, and then heads back to earth by way of parachute.

The New Shepard mission

The New Shepard craft is Blue Origin’s fully autonomous and reusable, suborbital rocket system built for human flight, the company’s website stated.

To date, 31 humans have flown to space as part of the Blue Origins space tourism program since its inaugural flight in 2021, including Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos.

Blue Origin Bezos blast off and capsule
Billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos is launched with three crew members aboard a New Shepard rocket on the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight from Blue Origin's Launch Site 1 near Van Horn, Texas. July 20, 2021. Image by Joe Skipper |Reuters. New Shepard crew capsule in the West Texas desert following NS-24 mission. December 19, 2023. Image by Blue Origins.

The upcoming NS-25 mission will have six-crew members taking part in the flight, all who have attended Blue Origin’s on-site astronaut training program in the Guadalupe Mountain range in Texas.

During the two day program in “Astronaut Village,” the soon-to-be crew members learn about the spacecraft, its safety systems, zero-g protocols, and execute mission simulations.

The May 19th crew list includes Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, Gopi Thotakura, and former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, the first Black astronaut candidate in the United States.

In 1961, Dwight was selected by US President John F. Kennedy as America’s first Black astronaut candidate, but was never granted the opportunity to fly to space.

Blue Origin NS-25 May 19 crew
Blue Origin's upcoming NS-25 mission six-person crew is scheduled for a May 19th, 2024 lift-off from West Texas.

On December 19th, 2023 Blue Origin launched the New Shepard’s 24th (NS-24) flight to space.

That successful unmanned mission carried 33 payloads from NASA, academia, research institutions, and commercial companies, the company states.


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