Blue Origin is set to return to active flight today, after a hiatus of nearly a year since its last launch in December 2019. Today’s launch is a mission for the company’s New Shepard reusable sub-orbital rocket – a record-setting sixth flight for this particular rocket, which first flew and landed back in December 2017. Today’s launch includes a system design to test elements of NASA’s Deorbit, Descent and Landing Sensor technology, which will provide key automation for use in future landers for the Moon and Mars that will be able to intelligently identify and avoid potential hazards on target landing zones.
This test will include recover of both the rocket and the capsule for the New Shepard launch vehicle. The Rocket will land back at the West Texas launch and landing site with a controlled, engine-powered descent, and the capsule will descend via parachute. The capsule will contain a variety of experiments and other payloads, including postcards from Blue Origin’s nonprofit organization Club for the Future provided by children from across the country.
The launch is set to take place at 8:35 AM CDT (9:35 AM EDT/6:35 AM PDT), with the livestream above beginning at around 9:05 AM EDT (6:05 AM PDT). The stream will include a message from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Blue Origin is increasingly working closely with NASA, including on a human landing system that could be the means for getting the next human astronauts to the surface of the Moon.