[Update: New target] Blue Origin targeting next New Shepard mission with NASA tech and art installation on Wednesday

Update: Blue Origin is pushing back the mission target by 24 hours.

Blue Origin has announced its next New Shepard rocket mission called NS-17 will take place on Wednesday, August 25. The mission carrying NASA technology and a special art installation will be an uncrewed spaceflight following founder Jeff Bezos’ trip to space on NS-16.

Here’s the announcement from Blue Origin:

New Shepard’s next mission will fly a NASA lunar landing technology demonstration a second time on the exterior of the booster, 18 commercial payloads inside the crew capsule, 11 of which are NASA-supported, and an art installation on the exterior of the capsule. Liftoff is currently targeted for Wednesday, August 25, at 8:35 am CDT / 13:35 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas. Live launch coverage begins at T-30 minutes on BlueOrigin.com. 

This will be the 17th New Shepard mission to date, the 4th flight for the program in 2021, and the 8th flight for this particular vehicle, which is dedicated to flying scientific and research payloads to space and back. 

To date, New Shepard has flown more than 100 payloads to space across 11 flights.

The mission will be Blue Origin’s second flight testing NASA’s lidar technology for use on lunar missions:

Under a Tipping Point partnership with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the NS-17 flight will further test a suite of lunar landing technologies to reduce risk and increase confidence for successful missions to the Moon. The payload will fly mounted on the exterior of the New Shepard booster. This is the second flight for this experiment.

Knowledge gained from the first flight on October 13, 2021 informed a series of critical improvements to further the capabilities of the Navigation Doppler Lidar and the Descent Landing Computer, which would work together to determine a spacecraft’s location and speed as it approaches the surface of the Moon. The technologies could allow future missions—both crewed and robotic—to target landing sites that weren’t possible during the Apollo missions, such as regions with varied terrain near craters.

As for the art installation:

Unique to NS-17, New Shepard will feature Suborbital Tryptych, which is a series of three portraits by Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo painted on the top of the crew capsule on the main chute covers. The portraits capture the artist, his mother, and a friend’s mother. The artwork is part of Uplift Aerospace’s Uplift Art Program, whose purpose is to inspire new ideas and generate dialog by making space accessible and connected to the human experience.

Learn more about the mission payloads here.

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