Kent-based Blue Origin on Tuesday, Oct. 13 successfully completed the 13th New Shepard mission to space and back, and the seventh consecutive flight for this particular vehicle, a record.
Leaving from the company’s West Texas launch pad, there were 12 payloads onboard including the deorbit, descent, and landing sensor demonstration under the NASA Tipping Point partnership, according to a Blue Origin email. The lunar landing sensor demo was the first payload to be mounted on the exterior of a New Shepard booster and tested technology designed to achieve high accuracy landing. This will enable long-term lunar exploration, as well as future Mars missions.
“Today’s flight was inspiring. Using New Shepard to simulate landing on the Moon is an exciting precursor to what the Artemis program will bring to America,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in an email. “Thanks to NASA for partnering with us, and congrats to the Blue Origin team on taking another step toward returning to the Moon to stay.”
Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, opened in Kent in 2000. The company opened a new headquarters in January along 76th Avenue South, and is expected to employ more than 4,000 by the end of the year, according to city of Kent officials. The company is one of several working with NASA to return American astronauts to the Moon in 2024.
Key mission stats
• Seventh consecutive successful flight to space and back for this New Shepard vehicle (a record – previous booster completed five consecutive successful flights before retirement)
• 13th consecutive successful crew capsule landing (every flight in program)
• The crew capsule reached an apogee of 346,964 feet above ground level (AGL)
• The booster reached an apogee of 346,563 feet AGL
• The mission elapsed time was 10 minutes, 9 seconds and the max ascent velocity was 2,232 mph
• The mission carried tens of thousands of postcards from Blue Origin’s nonprofit, Club for the Future, some of which include a NASA Artemis stamp
All mission crew supporting this launch exercised strict social distancing and safety measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks to personnel, customers and surrounding communities, according to Blue Origin.