After ten months, Blue Origin’s New Shepard made yet another flight. The suborbital vehicle’s flight took place on October 13. Onboard was NASA’s 12 payloads and customers who wanted to go to the edge of space and then return to Earth.
The lift-off venue was Blue Origin’s West Texas test site, and the time was 9:36 a.m. Eastern. The thing went as planned since the vehicle managed to reach an altitude of about 105 kilometers. Thanks to its booster, it made a powered land less than 10 minutes after the lift-off. It landed after seven and a half minutes.
Closely behind was a crew capsule that landed by a parachute almost three minutes after the suborbital vehicle. The new mission went by the name NS-13. The previous one in December 2019, and the first New Shepard took was named NS-12 mission.
Initially, this launch was to take place on September 24. However, due to the cloudy condition, the launch was delayed. It was then canceled as the company detected the possibility of a power supply problem from one of the experiments. The delay became even longer when the team identified a technical issue.
Among the dozen payloads were NASA’s Descent, Deorbit as well as the Landing Sensor Demonstration. All the payloads are about technology and science demonstrations. That’s probably why the source of funding was the Tipping Point technology development program. It is part of the agency’s Safe and Precise Landing – Integrated Capabilities Evolution (SPLICE) project. It is in alignment with NASA’s efforts to achieve precision landing regardless of the terrain.
This mission is different from the first one since there were payloads on the exterior of the rocket in the recent one. There was a payload developed by Space Lab Technologies in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder. Its purpose is to test plant growth. The other one was from the Southwest Research Institute. Its role is to test sampling regolith from the asteroids’ surface.
The company did not have much to say about crewed missions. However, it highlighted that the capacity of the crew capsule is six people. It also talked about the way people will board and the necessary preparations before flights. Its representatives said that after several additional flights within no time, the company would start to allow humans on board.
Wagner did not offer a schedule for activities that New Shepard could be doing in the future. However, she said that Blue Origin plans to continue payload flights. It intends to fly between 2 and 3 payload missions annually. She added that if the demand was to rise, then the company will fly more.