Kent-based Blue Origin successfully completed its 24th New Shepard flight and 13th payload mission Tuesday, Dec. 19 from Launch Site One in West Texas.
The flight carried 33 payloads from NASA, academia, research institutions and commercial companies, bringing the number of payloads flown on New Shepard to more than 150, according to a Blue Origin news release.
Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s nonprofit, flew 38,000 postcards as part of its Postcards to Space program. Each postcard will be returned to its creator stamped “Flown to Space.” The club recently added a digital method to create and send postcards.
The mission elapsed time was 10 minutes, 13 seconds.
“A special thank you to all of our customers who flew important science today and the students who contributed postcards to advance our future of living and working in space for the benefit of Earth,” said Phil Joyce, senior vice president for New Shepard. “Demand for New Shepard flights continues to grow and we’re looking forward to increasing our flight cadence in 2024.”
It was the first New Shepard payload mission since a mishap in September 2022. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) closed its investigation just over two months ago into the Sept. 12, 2022 incident.
The FAA required Blue Origin to implement 21 corrective actions to prevent mishap reoccurrence, including redesign of engine and nozzle components to improve structural performance during operation as well as organizational changes.
Blue Origin had to implement all corrective actions that impact public safety and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety and other applicable regulatory requirements prior to its next New Shepard launch.
The company, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, opened in Kent in 2000 and expanded its headquarters in 2020 to a 236,000-square-foot blue-colored facility along 76th Avenue South between South 212th and South 228th streets.
Blue Origin launched its first rides into space in 2021 and eventually plans to have people living and working in space.