Blue Origin launches their 17th New Shepard mission

After the successful first crewed flight last month, Blue Origin launched 17th New Shepard mission full of scietific payloads for NASA and other researchers.

This was the 8th flight for this particular booster, which was not the same booster to fly Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk as this booster is designated for scietific missions only. At about 10:34 a.m. EDT on Thursday, the New Shepard rocket lifted off from its launch site in west Texas for the 17th time.

The countdown was delayed due to several long holds that took place throughout the countdown. The first hold lasted about 15 mintes and no comment was given as to why the countdown had to held. The second hold happened just before T-1 minute and was apparently due to a payload readiness problem, this hold lasted almost 30 minutes.

After the holds where clearned, the clocked was reset to T-10 minutes and it counted down to 0 were the New Shepard rocket lifted off. After that, the rocket performed as inteded, with the booster and capsule landing succesfully after a short 10 minute flight.

“After flying more than 100 payloads to space on New Shepard, today’s 8th flight of this vehicle carried NASA-sponsored and commercial experiments, including the second flight of NASA’s lunar landing technology that will one day allow us to further explore the Moon’s surface. We are grateful to NASA for partnering with us once again on this experiment, and we are proud of the Blue Origin team for executing a great flight in support of all our customers.”

Bob Smith, CEO, Blue Origin

NS-17 onboard payloads

The biggest experiment to be on this mission was NASA’s Lunar Deorbit, Descent, and Landing sensors. This was the second time it has been flown on on a New Shepard and is attached to the booster rather than inside the capsule. This experiement allows NASA to learn more about the possibilties of landing on the Moon as we near closer and closer to Artemis’ human landing goal.

The other experiements were mostly funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, in which NASA funds experiements from their centers or univeristies to fly on these suborbital missions or on other smaller orbital rockets. Most of the expereiments delt with testing how certain fluids or gasses acted in microgravity which New Shepard has proven extreamly useful for.

When will New Shepard launch again?

No dates have been given for the next time Blue Origin will launch again. They do plan to launch another crewed missed later this year. This flight will have the winner of the charety auction that took place earlier this year, Blue Origin employees, and possible other ticket holders.

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