Since 2015 Blue Origin has been launching its New Shepard suborbital rocket from its facility in Van Horne, Texas. Additionally, in 2021 Blue Origin began launching paying customers atop its rocket for a 10-minute joy ride. The next launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, this time without crew is set for September 12 at 8:30 a.m. CDT. [Launch failure, read more here]
Update: NS-23 launch but encountered an anomaly in flight and the capsule aborted shortly after Max-Q (moment of highest aerodynamic pressure). Read more about the issue here.
The next New Shepard launch is NS-23
On September 12, Blue Origin plans to launch 36 payloads from universities, NASA, and more from its West Texas launch site. New Shepard launches last about 10 minutes and will expose the payloads to zero gravity long enough to gain research in that sort of environment. Unlike sounding rockets, New Shepard offers a pressurized compartment that is recoverable post-launch, allowing researchers to easily retrieve their samples.
Some of Blue Origin NS-23’s payloads
- AMPES: Infinity Fuel Cell’s AMPES experiment demonstrates the operation of hydrogen fuel cell technology in microgravity. The company is collaborating with NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to develop a scalable, modular, and flexible power and energy product utilizing new manufacturing methods to reduce cost and improve reliability. The technology could be used for lunar rovers, surface equipment, and habitats. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Tipping Point program provided funding.
- ASSET-1: ASSET is a testbed designed to study the strength of planetary soils, called regolith, under different gravity conditions. ASSET-1 is the experiment’s first flight on New Shepard and will be tested in microgravity to help determine the soil strength of asteroids, for example. ASSET and its future iterations can also be used to study parameters such as particle sizes and different loading conditions. This experimental payload was developed by Honeybee Robotics in Altadena, Calif., which was acquired by Blue Origin earlier this year, and is funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program.
- BISS: Principal investigators Rob Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul adapted technology that was originally designed for the International Space Station to suborbital uses with their experiment, “Biological Imaging in Support of Suborbital Science” (BISS). Through hardware developments and enhancing the way data is collected during the spaceflight, the FLEX fluorescence imaging system enables increasingly precise and dynamic understanding of biological responses to suborbital missions. This will be the fifth flight of the technology development series on New Shepard and includes science collaboration with the University of Wisconsin. Funding was provided by the NASA Flight Opportunities and Biological and Physical Sciences programs.
- CFOSS: CFOSS is a space-rated Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) technology to measure temperature and strain data to accelerate technology readiness levels before a low-Earth orbit launch. Developed at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, this experiment will be the first spaceflight for NASA’s fiber optics-based instrumentation for structural health monitoring. These measurements can enable the monitoring of additional parameters such as structural deformation and cryogenic liquid level estimations.
- ENGARTBOX: ENGARTBOX is a project that integrates engineering, science, and art by attempting to overcome the engineering and scientific challenges of producing a painting in a non-gravity environment. The payload was developed by students and teachers at Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, Greece, in the new Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center of the school, in conjunction with Dr. Takis Papadopoulos. The experiment is sponsored by ΒΕΤΑ CAE and Higas, and managed by Dr. Olympia Kyriopoulos from OLYMPIASPACE.
- WoS (Wings of Steel): A group of six high school students from NeoCity Academy in Kissimmee, Florida, is sending a three-minute experiment into microgravity to test the effects of gravity on ultrasonic sound waves. Investigating ultrasonic sound waves and their behavior in space could lead to further future discoveries about other types of waves.
- JANUS-APL: The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) will mount its JANUS payload on the New Shepard Propulsion Module for the first time to measure conditions outside the crew capsule and enable access to the space environment. This new capability will provide important insight into a critical but difficult to study region of Earth’s atmosphere as well as facilitate lower cost instrument/technology testing for missions to Earth’s orbit and beyond. APL already has multiple follow-on flights on New Shepard to expand this capability to accommodate telescopes, cameras, and the deployment of very small sensors.
- WAX CASTING: The Wax Casting experiment will test how cleaner propellants such as paraffin and beeswax can be fabricated in space in the future. The goal of the experiment is to visualize what happens when two liquids, melted candle wax and a similar liquid called Heptadecane, are rotated. By rotating these liquids in tubes, researchers can begin to understand how a process to form wax into fuel grains could be effective in future hybrid propulsion systems that combine solid fuel with gaseous oxidizers. Many traditional solid space fuels are harmful to people and the environment, while wax is affordable and non-toxic. The payload was developed by researchers at the MIT Media Lab’s Space Enabled Research Group with support from Tec-Masters, Inc. of Huntsville, AL. Funding was provided by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
- T-2 Mission: Titan Space Technologies is testing their latest advanced AI capabilities on this mission by continuously analyzing data across multiple sensors and adapting their experiment in real time. These results will help Titan advance the development of their AI-powered platform for space experimentation. Titan designed and executed the payload in fewer than 60 days.
- VARD: The VARD payload will demonstrate a novel sensor that measures the volume of liquid in a flexible bladder in microgravity. The sensor and payload were developed at Creare and tested in collaboration with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Funding to develop the sensor was provided by NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program.
- Postcards-in-Space: Like previous missions, postcards created through Blue Origin’s Club for the Future will hitch a ride to space and back. You can learn more about this opportunity through the charity’s website.
How to watch Blue Origin’s next New Shepard launch
Blue Origin usually live streams its New Shepard launches from Van Horne, Texas. For non-crewed flights, coverage usually starts not long before launch and will remain live for the entire launch and landing process. If there are delays due to weather or the rocket, Blue Origin will keep the feed live, however commentary about what the problem is not likely.
List of New Shepard launches
|Mission Name||Launch Date||Notes|
|NS-0||October 19, 2015||Pad abort test of the New Shepard capsule.|
|NS-1||April 29, 2015||First flight of the New Shepard rocket, booster crashed during landing.|
|NS-2||November 23, 2015||First New Shepard launch to 100 km and successful booster landing.|
|NS-3||January 22, 2016||Second New Shepard sub-orbital spaceflight, first with a reused booster.|
|NS-4||April 2, 2016||Third suborbital New Shepard spaceflight.|
|NS-5||June 19, 2016||First live webcast by Blue Origin.|
|NS-6||October 5, 2016||Successful test of the New Shepard’s in-flight abort system.|
|NS-7||December 12, 2017||First flight of the New Shepard Crew Capsule 2.0.|
|NS-8||April 29, 2018||The eight suborbital launch.|
|NS-9||July 18, 2018||Carried a mannequin and tested New Shepard’s in-flight abort system at high altitude.|
|NS-10||January 23, 2019||Flight of eight NASA research and technology payloads.|
|NS-11||May 2, 2019||Flew 38 microgravity research payloads.|
|NS-12||December 11, 2019||Besides commercial, government, and educational research projects, this mission flew postcards from Club for the Future.|
|NS-13||October 13, 2020||Twelve research payloads, including a NASA payload to study lunar landing for the Artemis program.|
|NS-14||January 14, 2021||First flight of RSS First Steps, first qualification flight for crewed missions.|
|NS-15||April 14, 2021||Pre-flight human passenger process test, four Blue Origin employees were loaded into the New Shepard before launch but did not fly.|
|NS-16||July 20, 2021||First crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, including first paying customer to fly:|
– Jeff Bezos
– Mark Bezos
– Wally Funk
– Oliver Daemen
|NS-17||August 25, 2021||Uncrewed, flew 18 research payloads, another NASA mission to test lunar landing, and an art installation outside the capsule.|
|NS-18||October 13, 2021||Second crewed flight of three customers and a Blue Origin employee:|
– Chris Boshuizen
– Glen de Vries
– William Shatner
– Audrey Powers
|NS-19||December 11, 2021||First crewed flight of six, four customers and two invited guests (Strahan and Churchley).|
– Lane Bess
– Cameron Bess
– Evan Dick
– Laura Shepard Churchley
– Michael Strahan
– Dylan Taylor
|NS-20||March 31, 2022||Fourth crewed New Shepard launch:|
– Marty Allen
– Sharon Hagle
– Marc Hagle
– Jim Kitchen
– George Nield
– Gary Lai
|NS-21||June 4, 2022||Fifth crewed New Shepard launch, first repeat customer:|
– Evan Dick
– Katya Echazarreta
– Hamish Harding
– Victor Correa Hespanha
– Jaison Robinson
– Victor Vescovo
|NS-22||August 4, 2022||Sixth crewed New Shepard launch|
– Coby Cotton
– Mário Ferreira
– Vanessa O’Brien
– Clint Kelly III
– Sara Sabry
– Steve Young
|NS-23||September 12, 2022||Uncrewed, planned to carry scientific payloads to edge of space. Engine failed during Max-Q.|
The next launch for Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard rocket is set for September 12, 2022, at 8:30 a.m. CDT. It will carry 36 payloads from universities, NASA, and other institutions.