Blue Origin went to space once more.
The firm’s reusable New Shepard rocket-capsule combo aced its newest mission this morning (Aug. 26), an uncrewed jaunt that carried a wide range of scientific experiments, in addition to some pioneering paintings, to and from suborbital space.
It was the primary flight for Blue Origin since July 20, when firm founder Jeff Bezos and three different individuals launched on the first-ever crewed New Shepard mission.
Video: Watch Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-17 launch (and stunning landing)
New Shepard launched right this moment from Blue Origin’s West Texas website, close to the city of Van Horn, at 10:32 a.m. EDT (1432 GMT; 9:32 a.m. native Texas time) after practically an hour of delays induced partially by a payload readiness problem. Both components of the car had come again all the way down to Earth for comfortable, parachute-aided touchdowns by about 11 minutes after liftoff.
Today’s mission was the seventeenth general for New Shepard and due to this fact carried the designation NS-17. It marked the eighth flight for RSS H.G. Wells, the New Shepard car devoted to uncrewed jaunts. The spacecraft reached an altitude of about 347,430 ft (105,619 meters) — practically 66 miles ( 106 kilometers) — throughout the flight, properly above the 62-mile (100 km) Karman line well known as a boundary of space.
Blue Origin additionally operates a second New Shepard, often known as RSS First Step; that car carried Bezos, his brother Mark, 18-year-old Dutch scholar Oliver Daemen and 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk on July 20.
In images: Blue Origin’s 1st New Shepard passenger launch with Jeff Bezos
On right this moment’s mission, 18 scientific payloads rode inside H.G. Wells’ capsule, 11 of which have been NASA-supported, Blue Origin representatives mentioned.
One of these experiments, often known as OSCAR (brief for “Orbital Syngas/Commodity Augmentation Reactor”) examined know-how designed to transform spaceflight trash to helpful gases similar to water vapor. Another, referred to as Modal Propellant Gauging, demonstrated a brand new technique to measure how a lot gas is left in a spacecraft’s tank — an necessary activity that may be difficult to carry out in microgravity.
There was additionally some scientific gear on the outside of the capsule — particularly, NASA’s Deorbit, Descent and Landing Sensor Demonstration experiment, a set of sensors designed to assist spacecraft land extra exactly on the moon and different distant locations. This identical experiment additionally flew to space on a New Shepard mission in October 2020.
But NS-17 was about artwork in addition to science. The mission additionally lofted “Suborbital Tryptych,” a three-portrait piece that Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo painted on the capsule’s essential parachute covers. No artwork set up had flown on a New Shepard mission earlier than.
“The portraits capture the artist, his mother, and a friend’s mother,” Blue Origin representatives wrote in an NS-17 mission description. “The artwork is part of Uplift Aerospace’s Uplift Art Program, whose purpose is to inspire new ideas and generate dialog by making space accessible and connected to the human experience.”
The rock band OK Go additionally launched paintings into space aboard NS-17. The group said on Twitter that its Praxinoscope postcards have been flying aboard the mission. In 2019, OK Go announced an Art in Space contest for college kids between the ages of 11 to 18, calling on children to submit concepts for artwork initiatives in space and the way they may very well be achieved.
And, as on earlier New Shepard missions, NS-17 carried to and from space 1000’s of postcards submitted by children through Club for the Future, a nonprofit group run by Blue Origin.
With its newest uncrewed flight within the books, Blue Origin mentioned it is seeking to launch its subsequent astronaut flight “soon,” and has mentioned previously that the flight will doubtless carry off within the fall.
“Our astronaut manifest is filling up pretty fast,” Blue Origin’s Kiah Erlich, director of astronaut and NASA gross sales, mentioned throughout right this moment’s launch webcast. “We’re actually at nearly $100 million in seat sales and just blown away by all of the interest.”
This summer season, Blue Origin auctioned off the primary seat for its first crewed flight final month for a total of $28 million in a fundraiser for Club for the Future. While that winner, who has not been named by Blue Origin, didn’t fly on the July 20 launch as a result of a schedule battle, the runner up within the public sale was Daemen’s father (for an undisclosed sum) who gave the seat to the 18-year-old.
Blue Origin has not disclosed what the common value for a Blue Origin journey to space will likely be on New Shepard.
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide concerning the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.