Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos has planned to make a comeback to space with its rocket, Big Shepard, following an accident over a year ago. The launch window is scheduled to open at 8:30 am local time in west Texas.

The mission, named NS-24, will focus on scientific experiments and equipment rather than carrying a crew. More than half of the equipment has been developed in collaboration with NASA.

The incident in September 2022 led to a crash of the rocket booster stage, triggering an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA’s findings, revealed in September 2023, pointed to a higher-than-planned temperature in the rocket’s engine as the cause of the accident. In response, the FAA instructed Blue Origin to implement changes, specifically in the design of certain engine parts. With the approval from the FAA on Sunday, Blue Origin is now cleared to resume launches.

Blue Origin employs its New Shepard rocket for space tourism flights from Texas, having already taken 31 individuals, including Jeff Bezos, on short rides into space. The spacecraft comprises a booster stage and a capsule carrying the payload. The NS-23 mission experienced a capsule ejection system activation, leading to a safe descent, while the main rocket stage crashed, deviating from the usual controlled landing for reuse.

In addition to its space tourism endeavors, Blue Origin competes with Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson. Furthermore, the company is actively developing New Glenn, a heavy rocket with a maiden flight planned for the next year. New Glenn is designed to reach a much higher payload capacity, taking up to 45 metric tons into low earth orbit, compared to New Shepard’s lower altitude missions.

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