Blue Origin plans to conduct the next test flight of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle no earlier than Dec. 19 as the company moves closer to flying people into space.
In a statement Dec. 17, the company said the next New Shepard flight, designated NS-10, will take place Dec. 18 at 9:30 a.m. Eastern from its West Texas test site that has hosted all previous New Shepard tests. The flight, like several past flights, will be webcast. The statement came after the publication by the Federal Aviation Administration of restricted airspace around the company’s launch site for a three-day period starting Dec. 18.
However, the company announced less than an hour before the scheduled launch that it was scrubbing the launch because of a “ground infrastructure issue.” The company says it will set a new launch date after reviewing weather forecasts for Dec. 19.
The flight will be the first for New Shepard since a July 18 launch that tested the abort motor in the crew capsule. The motor fired shortly after the capsule separated from its propulsion module, with the capsule making a regular landing under parachutes while the propulsion module made a powered vertical landing.
The NS-10 flight will use the same propulsion module and crew capsule as the July flight but is intended to be a more standard suborbital spaceflight. The vehicle will be carrying nine experiments provided by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, the company said. As with all previous flights, there will be no people on this New Shepard mission, but the company noted that the research payloads play a “role in perfecting the technology for a future human presence in space.” A second booster recently arrived at the site that the company says will be used for future crewed flights.
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