The private American space company Blue Origin, of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, plans to fly twelve commercial payloads into space and back with the next start of its new Shepard mission. The mission is to test key technologies for returning to the moon with NASA. The NS-13 mission is scheduled to start on September 24 at 10:00 a.m. CDT / 3:00 p.m. UTC (5:00 p.m. CEST), the space company announced.
The current weather conditions are favorable, it said. It is the 13th New Shepard mission and the seventh flight in a row for this particular vehicle (a record) that demonstrates its operational reusability.
The mission is scheduled to fly twelve commercial payloads into space and back, including demonstration of deorbit, descent and landing sensors with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate as part of a tipping point partnership. This is the first payload to be mounted on the outside of a new Shepard booster rather than in the capsule, opening the door to a wide variety of future payloads for elevation, sampling and exposure.
Precision landing technologies for future missions to the moon
A demo of the lunar landing sensor is set to test precision landing technologies for future missions to the moon in support of the Artemis program. The experiment will examine how these technologies (sensors, computers and algorithms) work together to determine the location and speed of a spacecraft as it approaches the moon, so that a vehicle can autonomously land on the lunar surface within 100 meters of a certain point can.
The technologies could enable future missions – both crewed and robotic – to target landing sites that were not possible during the Apollo missions, e.g. B. Regions of different terrain near craters. Achieving a highly accurate landing enables long-term lunar exploration and future Mars missions.
This is the first of two flights to test this lunar landing technology, which increases confidence in successful missions in the Artemis program. NS-13 is part of the risk mitigation process to test these types of sensors for future missions.
New Shepard booster going through the integration and testing of the sensor experiment at Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site. Image: Blue Origin
As part of NASA’s Artemis Human Landing System program, Blue Origin is also leading the national team of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper developing a human landing system to bring Americans back to the lunar surface. The technology for the Blue Origin Descent Element, which brings astronauts to the lunar surface, is based on the autonomous landing capabilities developed for the New Shepard program.
New Shepard has launched more than 100 payloads into space on ten consecutive flights. Payloads aboard the NS-13 include experiments from the Laboratory of Applied Physics at Johns Hopkins University, Southwest Research Institute, NASA Flight Opportunities, Space Lab Technologies, University of Florida, Space Environment Technologies, and mu Space Corp. .
Tens of thousands of postcards on board
Also on board are tens of thousands of postcards from Blue Origin’s nonprofit Club for the Future, some of which contain a special NASA Artemis postage stamp.
All mission crews supporting this launch are applying strict social distancing and safety measures to reduce COVID-19 risks to staff, customers and the surrounding communities.
Follow the launch live on the Internet
The start can be followed live on www.blueorigin.com. The pre-show starts at 30 minutes and features mission details including a special update from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.