Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin spaceflight company is preparing to launch its New Shepard (NS) spacecraft Thursday from West Texas. The spacecraft will launch a NASA lunar landing technology demonstration on the outer surface of the booster, and NASA-supported commercial payloads inside the crew capsule, the company said in a statement.
“This will be the fourth flight of the New Shepard program this year and the eighth flight of this particular craft, which is intended to transport scientific and research payloads into space and back,” Blue Origin said in a statement on August 23.
The new Shepherd spacecraft was Jeff Bezos flewand his brother, Mark Wally Funk, the fourth passenger into space in July. To date, the spacecraft has flown more than 100 payloads into space via 11 flights. The New Shepherd is a 60-foot-tall rocket and capsule assembly that is completely autonomous and cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft. The launch will be broadcast live on the company’s website.
The NS-17 flight, which first launched in October 2020, is set to test more of the suite of lunar landing technologies to reduce risks and increase confidence in successful missions to the Moon in its latest spaceflight, the second mission of its kind. “Technologies could allow future missions — both manned and robotic — to target landing sites that weren’t possible during the Apollo missions, such as areas of varied terrain near craters,” Blue Origins said.
For the first time, NS-17 will also feature Suborbital Tryptych, a series of three images by Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo painted on top of the crew capsule on the covers of the main sleigh. The photos are taken by the artist, his mother and the mother of a friend. The artwork at Boafo is part of Uplift Aerospace’s Uplift Art program that seeks to make the space more accessible.
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