Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is preparing to launch its New Shepard rocket for the first time in over a year, the company said Tuesday.
The New Shepard launch, titled NS-24, will be a cargo mission, carrying research and scientific payloads. The mission will mark the suborbital rocket’s return to flight, after a more than 14-month hiatus due to a mid-launch failure during a cargo mission in September 2022.
The Federal Aviation Administration closed its investigation into the failed NS-23 mission earlier this year. The agency required Blue Origin to take corrective actions “to improve structural performance during operation as well as organizational changes” at the company.
The New Shepard rocket launches from Blue Origin’s private facility in West Texas, carrying people and payloads above 100 kilometers, or more than 340,000 feet, for a couple minutes of weightlessness. The capsule is flown autonomously, with no human pilot, and floats down with the assistance of a set of parachutes to land in the Texas desert. The New Shepard rocket booster is reusable, returning to land on a concrete pad near the launch site.
To date, Blue Origin has flown 31 people past the edge of space with New Shepard.