Blue Origin has successfully launched its most significant mission to date carrying 38 payloads for NASA and a number of other commercial customers. Designated NS-11, the mission was the eleventh aboard a New Shepard rocket and the second to carry commercial payloads.
The New Shepard rocket was launched from Blue Origin’s West Texas facility at 13:30 UTC yesterday. Approximately three minutes after liftoff, the capsule separated from the booster with the pair drifting upwards to a 106-kilometre (66-mile) apogee. The NS-11 mission was completed a few minutes later with the successful touchdown of the booster followed shortly after by the capsule.
Congrats to the whole @BlueOrigin team on the fifth flight of this particular New Shepard vehicle. It’s another big step in demonstrating operational reusability. #LaunchLandRepeat pic.twitter.com/55LXBMdECP
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) May 2, 2019
The 38 payloads launched aboard NS-11 encompassed a broad range of industries from aerospace medicine to engineering and biology. Many of the payloads were not only from industry but also from students, including an experiment from a group of high school students from Huntsville, Alabama.
“It’s such a huge milestone,” said Elizabeth Kennick, president of Teachers in Space. “This opens the door to flying more experiments for more schools, and that means exposing more teachers and students to the promise of spaceflight.”
In addition to the flight carrying the largest number of payloads to date, NS-11 was also the fifth recovery of the same booster and the eleventh successful mission aboard a New Shepard.