Jeff Bezos’ space flight company Blue Origin is all set to launch its New Shepard (NS) spacecraft on Thursday from West Texas. The spacecraft will fly a NASA lunar landing technology demonstration on the exterior of the booster, and commercial and NASA-supported payloads inside the crew capsule, the company said in a statement.
“This will be the 4th flight for the New Shepard program this year and the 8th flight for this particular vehicle, which is dedicated to flying scientific and research payloads to space and back,” Blue Origin said in a statement on August 23.
The New Shepard spacecraft had flown Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Wally Funk, and a fourth passenger to space in July. Till date, the spacecraft has flown more than 100 payloads to space across 11 flights. New Shepard is a 60-foot-tall and fully autonomous rocket-and-capsule combo that cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft. The launch will be webcasted live on the company’s website.
The NS-17 flight, which was flown for the first time in October, 2020, is all set to test further a suite of lunar landing technologies to reduce risk and increase confidence for successful missions to the Moon in its latest spaceflight, this is the second mission of its kind. “The technologies could allow future missions—both crewed and robotic—to target landing sites that weren’t possible during the Apollo missions, such as regions with varied terrain near craters,” said Blue Origins.
For the first time the NS-17 will also feature the Suborbital Tryptych, which is a series of three portraits by Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo painted on the top of the crew capsule on the main chute covers. The portraits capture the artist, his mother, and a friend’s mother. Boafo’s artwork is a part of Uplift Aerospace’s Uplift Art Program which seeks to make space more accessible.