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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Blue Origin will launch these 6 space tourists on May 19, its 1st crewed mission since 2022

• https://www.space.com, By Josh Dinner

Blue Origin is set to break its dry spell of crewed launches this weekend.

A crew of six will be aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket-capsule combo on the company's 25th overall launch and seventh space tourism mission, which will lift off from West Texas. The passengers on this flight, known as NS-25, were announced last month; they include retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Ed Dwight, who was selected as the nation's first Black astronaut candidate way back in 1961.

Blue Origin, run by billionaire Jeff Bezos, did not initially indicate a date for the NS-25 mission, but announced earlier this week that the launch is targeted for this Sunday (May 19) at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT; 8:30 a.m. local time in West Texas).

Blue Origin's last space tourism launch occurred in August 2022. That mission carried six passengers on a suborbital flight just like the one scheduled for this weekend and performed nominally, with both the New Shepard rocket and the crewed capsule landing safely. 

However, the next New Shepard flight — an uncrewed research mission that launched in September 2022 — suffered an anomaly caused by a structural failure in the nozzle of the rocket's BE-3PM engine. The capsule for that launch managed to parachute safely back to the ground, but the New Shepard rocket exploded, leading Blue Origin to ground the vehicle as the company performed an investigation.

More than a year later, New Shepard was cleared for flight again, and launched another uncrewed payload on the NS-24 mission in December 2023. This weekend, the six passengers of NS-25 will be the first crew to launch on New Shepard since its accident almost two years ago.


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