Weeks after launching six people on a brief tourism flight to space, Blue Origin is ready for its next launch on August 31. However, there will be no humans onboard this time. The Jeff Bezos-led company will launch 36 scientific payloads into Low Earth Orbit that will study not just the things happening in space but also the effects the space environment has on the rocket.
The New Shepard’s 23rd mission will lift off from Launch Site One in West Texas. A successful flight will bring the total number of commercial payloads flown on the vehicle to more than 150. This will be the fourth flight for the New Shepard program this year, the first dedicated payload flight since NS-17 in August 2021, and the ninth flight for the vehicle being used this time.
While two of the payloads going up on New Shepard will fly on the exterior of the New Shepard booster for ambient exposure to the space environment, 18 others are funded by Nasa under the Flight Opportunities program. Meanwhile, 24 payloads are from K-12 schools, universities, and STEM-focused organizations, including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR), and SHAD Canada STEM Foundation.
“This is double the number of education-focused payloads from previous payload flight manifests. In many cases, these payloads expose students as young as elementary school to STEM skills like coding, environmental testing, and CAD design often not taught until college,” Bue Origin said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the CFOSS, a space-rated Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) technology, measures temperature and strain data to accelerate technology readiness levels before a low-Earth orbit launch. Blue Origin said that the ENGARTBOX is also being launched with New Shepard, which integrates engineering, science, and art by attempting to overcome the engineering and scientific challenges of producing a painting in a non-gravity environment.
Blue Origin on August 2 launched the third tourism flight of the year carrying Dude Perfect cofounder Coby Cotton, British-American mountaineer Vanessa O’Brien, technology leader Clint Kelly III and telecommunications executive Steve Young, Egyptian mechanical and biomedical engineer Sara Sabry and Mário Ferreira, a Portuguese entrepreneur, investor, and President of Pluris Investments Group to space.