Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Blue Origin to launch rocket Thursday

A Blue Origin rocket taking flight from Texas

New Shepard taking flight. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin is planning to launch its 13th uncrewed flight of its suborbital New Shepard system on Thursday, the Jeff Bezos-founded company announced.

Why it matters: The flight will mark the first New Shepard test of 2020. This system last flew in December 2019.

Details: New Shepard is expected to lift off at 11am ET from Blue Origin's West Texas facility.

  • If successful, the test flight will mark this New Shepard's seventh launch and landing.
  • According to Blue Origin, the vehicle will bring 12 commercial payloads along for the ride, including a lunar landing sensor the company says could one day be used on the Moon.
  • Between the lines: Blue Origin is currently leading a team that's competing to win a contract to build NASA a human-rated landing system that could bring astronauts to the Moon as part of its Artemis program.

The big picture: The New Shepard capsule is designed to one day take paying passengers on flights to the edge of space, allowing them to see Earth against the blackness of space and experience weightlessness.

  • Blue Origin also has plans to build large rockets — like the New Glenn currently in development — that will be able to fly people and payloads to orbit and beyond at some point in the future.

How to watch: You can see the launch live via webcast from Blue Origin on Thursday starting about 30 minutes before liftoff.

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