New Shepard rocket. Credits: Blue Origin

Blue Origin Returns to Flight After More Than a Year

On Dec.19, 2023, Blue Origin successfully launched its New Shepard 24 mission from Launch Site One in West Texas, 15 months after the latest flight

On Dec.19, 2023, Blue Origin successfully launched its new mission to space from Launch Site One in West Texas, 15 months after the latest one. This mission is the Company’s 24th flight and 13th payload mission.

The liftoff, originally scheduled for December 18, was delayed due to a ground system issue. The first stage successfully landed near the launch pad after a nominal separation from the capsule, which safely landed under its parachutes 10 minutes after reaching a peak altitude of 107 km.

The mission, named NS-24 (New Shepard 24) carried to space 33 science experiments, bringing the number of payloads flown to space on New Shepard to more than 150. Half of the payloads on this flight were developed and flown with support from NASA and US universities.

Onboard there were also 38,000 Club for the Future postcards from students worldwide, as part of an initiative to introduce young people to space and science. The postcards will be marked as “Flown to Space” and returned to each student.


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Return to flight

New Shepard had been grounded since the NS-23 mission in September 2022, when the vehicle suffered an anomaly during a research flight last year.

The rocket launched on Sept.12, 2022, but, during the flight, the New Shepard capsule initiated its launch abort system, blasting itself away from the rocket.

The system worked correctly, parachuting, and landing safely the capsule and the payload. The rocket, without a functioning engine, instead of landing vertically as usual, fell back to the ground and was destroyed.

In March, the Blue Origin internal investigation revealed that the cause of the failure was a problem with the engine nozzle that caused high temperatures; onboard systems detected the anomaly and shut the engine down starting the abort system. The FAA then took another six months to close its investigation and identify 21 corrective actions.


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Blue Origin

Blue Origin is an American private space company founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.

The company aims to make access to space cheaper through reusable launch vehicles like the New Shepard rocket, a reusable rocket with the ability to do vertical landings, fly research payloads and tourists on short, microgravity suborbital trips.

Blue Origin started focusing on suborbital flights but is now developing New Glenn, an orbital launch vehicle with a reusable first stage, Blue Moon, a lunar lander capable of carrying payload and people to the surface of the Moon, and a commercial space station called Orbital Reef in partnership with Sierra Space and other private companies.

Blue Moon. Credits: Blue Origin
Blue Moon lander. Credits: Blue Origin

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Benedetta Facini

Benedetta Facini

Italian physics student and aspiring astronaut.
I talk about space and astronauts on social media

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