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Triumphant Return of New Shepard Achieves Success in Suborbital Mission

Photo from Google

Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle returned to flight on December 19, 2023, after a 15-month hiatus.

Photo from Google

Blue Origin’s Successful NS-24 Mission Marks New Shepard’s Return to Flight

Blue Origin launched from Launch Site One in West Texas at 11:42 a.m. Eastern. After reaching 107 kilometers, the capsule with research and instructional payloads landed via parachutes, while the propulsion module landed vertically using its engine. A ground system issue and cold weather delayed this mission, NS-24, from December 18.

The NS-24 flight carried 33 payloads, including from NASA’s Flight Opportunities program for suborbital vehicle studies and technological demonstrations. Blue Origin-affiliated educational group Club for the Future distributed 38,000 postcards at the opening. Importantly, New Shepard returned following a September 2022 capsule launch abort motor malfunction. Blue Origin found that thermal degradation caused the BE-3 PM engine nozzle to fail, causing the engine to run hotter than planned.

Blue Origin did not mention the accident or efforts to fix it in the launch broadcast. However, the propulsion module utilized on NS-24 had completed its ninth flight, indicating it was the booster from crewed New Shepard launches. While New Shepard’s future was uncertain, Blue Origin personnel stressed their commitment to the suborbital spacecraft, citing rising travel demand.

READ ALSO: FAA closes New Shepard mishap investigation

Blue Origin Commits to Expanding Operations

Blue Origin’s Erika Wagner emphasized the company’s efforts to increase the fleet and enhance operations to meet rising flight demand during the webcast. Blue Origin mentioned research flight opportunities and seat sales on crewed New Shepard flights without providing details. The business has flown six crewed New Shepard flights with 31 people, one twice. The last crewed flight was in August 2022.

Blue Origin’s NS-24 mission successfully returned the New Shepard suborbital vehicle to flight and showed its commitment to the platform in its space exploration efforts.

READ ALSO: New Shepard returns to flight with successful suborbital mission

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