Blue Origin has successfully launched 8 NASA-sponsored payloads aboard their 10th New Shepard mission.
The flight-proven New Shepard launched from the company’s facility in West Texas at 15:05 UTC (10:05 EST). Following the launch and crew capsule deployment, the New Shepard booster touched down safely not far from where it had initially launched. Finally, approximately 10 minutes after lifting off, the crew capsule with all 8 experiments touched down safely.
The 8 payloads launched aboard NS-10 were developed and built by government agencies, academia and industry. The focus of each payload ranges widely from microgravity propellant gauging to vibration isolation demonstrators and even a study on thermal management for space applications.
Many of the payloads launched had previously been flown on prior missions aboard other launch vehicles. Additional flights allow researchers to refine their experiments and technology testing parameters that they may not initially have known about.
“The opportunity to re-fly our payload is helping us not only validate and compare data for different flight profiles but also test modifications and upgrades,” said Kathryn Hurlbert, principal investigator for SFEM-2 (one of the 8 payloads). “In the very challenging task of flying things in space, it has been said – and I continue to believe – that ‘you are done with testing when you can’t think of anything else to test.’”
In addition to the NS-10 mission being the tenth aboard a New Shepard rocket, it was also the fourth aboard this particular vehicle, the New Shepard 3. The rocket first launched on December 12, 2017. During 2018, it was launched twice more in April and July.