Blue Origin Prepares For The Return Of New Shepard Suborbital Rocket


Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, is set to resume its New Shepard suborbital rocket operations after a hiatus of over 15 months. The company has announced that an uncrewed mission, named NS-24, is scheduled for launch as early as December 18. This marks a significant milestone for Blue Origin as it aims to return to spaceflight following a pause in operations.

Key Takeaway

Blue Origin is set to resume its New Shepard suborbital rocket operations with the upcoming NS-24 mission, following a regulatory clearance and successful implementation of corrective actions. The resumption marks a significant step for the company’s spaceflight endeavors.

Resumption of Operations

After a prolonged grounding since September 2022 due to an engine nozzle issue that triggered an auto-abort, Blue Origin is now ready to proceed with the NS-24 mission. The company has confirmed that the upcoming flight will carry 33 science and research payloads along with other cargo, signifying a renewed focus on advancing scientific exploration.

Regulatory Clearance

Following the investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into the previous mishap, Blue Origin has been instructed to implement 21 corrective actions, including redesigning engine and nozzle components, as well as making organizational changes. With the successful implementation of these actions, Blue Origin has obtained a modified launch license from the FAA, paving the way for the upcoming mission.

Operational Scope

The modified launch license obtained by Blue Origin is valid until August 2025 and is limited to launches from the company’s facilities in West Texas. This signifies a clear regulatory approval for the resumption of New Shepard’s flight program, ensuring adherence to safety and operational standards.

Future Endeavors

While Blue Origin has ambitious projects in development, such as the New Glenn heavy-lift rocket and the Blue Moon lunar lander, the New Shepard suborbital rocket remains the company’s sole operational program at present. With over 22 successful flights and 31 individuals flown to the edge of space and back, including CEO Jeff Bezos, the New Shepard program continues to demonstrate its capabilities in enabling suborbital exploration.

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