After a technical delay prevented the fifth human flight in Blue Origin’s New Shepard, the mission is now set to launch tourists to space on Saturday, June 4.
1. Blue Origin’s 5th human flight
Dubbed NS-21, the next mission of Blue Origin to the stars is targeted for June 4, according to an official statement from the space company. The suborbital vehicle New Shepard will take onboard six crew members who are eager to enjoy for a few minutes the adrenaline of being launched into space, weightlessness or zero gravity, and the journey back to Earth.
NS-21 will be the 21st spaceflight for New Shepard overall. But it will be just the fifth crewed mission for the system, following flights in July, October and December of 2021 and March 31 of this year.
The launch is scheduled to depart from Blue Origin’s West Texas site as of 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). Originally supposed to liftoff on May 20, Blue Origin delayed the launch after finding a potential threatening issue with one of the vessel’s backup systems. Despite fixing all the technical issues and being ready to take off, the company didn’t disclose details about what prevented them to launch on time.
2. New Shepard
New Shepard is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL), crew-rated suborbital launch vehicle developed by Blue Origin as a commercial system for suborbital space tourism. The spacecraft Shepard is a reusable rocket-capsule that sends people and payloads on brief trips to suborbital space. During each roughly 11-minute mission, passengers get to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curve of Earth against the blackness of space.
Prototype engine and vehicle flights began in 2006, while full-scale engine development started in the early 2010s and was complete by 2015. Uncrewed flight testing of the complete New Shepard vehicle (propulsion module and space capsule) began in 2015.