After a lengthy nine-month lull in flights following the previous test of Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard launch system, the company is ready to return to action with another test launch and landing of the fully reusable booster and capsule duo. The flight is currently scheduled to take place from Blue Origin’s West Texas facility — near Van Horn, Texas — on Thursday morning at 10:00 am Central Daylight Time/15:00 UTC.
This mission, also known as NS-13, will see 12 commercial payloads launched to the edge of space and back, including a NASA-developed sensor suite that could enable future lunar landing craft to perform safe and precise touchdowns on the surface of the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis exploration program.
As in the name, the NS-13 mission will be the 13th test flight of the New Shepard launch system, and the first such flight of 2020.
New Shepard is the first in a line of vehicles that Blue Origin will potentially operate. The booster and capsule were built to serve the suborbital space tourism market, which will allow paying customers to experience a few minutes of flight time in microgravity before safely returning to the surface of Earth.