Blue Origin will launch nine NASA-sponsored tech payloads on Tuesday

James Marshall
January 23, 2019

Blue Origin announced on December 17 that it will conduct its next New Shepard test flight on December 18, 2018 at 9:30 am ET.

NASA has tapped Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to launch nine of its sponsored technology payloads into space. The rocket and crew capsule system is aimed at the suborbital tourism market, allowing paying customers to enjoy into a few minutes of zero-G flight prior to a parachute-assisted landing. The contraption is made of a capsule and booster rocket that launch vertically from a launchpad. The vehicle will be carrying nine experiments provided by NASA's Flight Opportunities program, the company said. As with all previous flights, there will be no people on this New Shepard mission, but the company noted that the research payloads play a "role in perfecting technology for a future human presence in space". The payloads come from a variety of institutions, including Johns Hopkins, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the Johnson Space Center, Controlled Dynamics Inc., Purdue University, and others.

The New Shepard takes its name after the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard.

The test flight also carried 12 payloads and even a passenger - specifically an instrumented dummy brilliantly named "Mannequin Skywalker".

That SpaceShipTwo flight December 13 reached a peak altitude of 82.7 kilometers, above the 50-mile (80.5-kilometer) level where US government agencies award altitude wings but below the 100-kilometer Karman Line often used as the boundary of space.

Many of these experiments have been tested in space before, and some of them have been tested in space a few times.

These latest tests were created to push the booster to its limit, which led to Blue Origin noting the potential they could lose the booster, not least during the focused testing on the escape system, centered around a solid motor firing for two seconds to fly the capsule free of a failing booster. The upcoming flight is also expected to exceed 100 kilometers.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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