Looks like Blue Origin isn’t backing down from the space race anytime soon…
Blue Origin recently launched a new Shepard rocket to the suborbital space. The no-crew mission is called NS-17 and marks the 17th flight of the space firm’s new Shepard rocket-capsule combo, the 4th flight for the program in the year 2021 and the 8th flight for this particular aircraft all around.
According to the company, the goal behind NS-17 flights is to “test a suite of lunar landing technologies to reduce risk and increase confidence for successful missions to the Moon.” While there won’t be any humans on board, the rocket’s booster would carry a payload in its exterior. The mission will carry about 18 commercial payloads out of which 11 are for NASA-sponsored experiments. And while we’re on the topic of exterior, we learned a new neat idea which is part of the Uplift Aerospace’s Uplift Art Program. According to the program, the rocket will feature three portraits painted on the top of the crew capsule on the main chute covers by the Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo which seems like a unique way to inspire new ideas and “generate dialog by making space accessible and connected to the human experience.”
The news of the launch came at an unexpected time as Blue Origin recently lost about a dozen employees including the lead engineer on the lunar lander program, Nitin Arora, ex-NASA astronaut and Blue Origin Chief of Mission Assurance, Jeff Ashby and Senior Vice President, Steve Bennet while some joined the rival company, SpaceX.
Blue Origin seems to be in a tight spot right now as on one end they’re in a legal battle against NASA over the lunar contract while on the other side, they’re trying to stay at par with SpaceX and their technology. So the news of the launch of their new rocket system might just be the positive marketing they need right now.