Blue Origin New Shepard, NS-13

New Shepard booster lands after this vehicle’s 6th consecutive flight on 12/11/19 | photo: Blue Origin

New Shepard launch Will Be Testing Main Tech with NASA for Lunar Return

Space Coast, FL – Today, Blue Origin announced it’s next launch of their rocket, New Shepard. It’s mission, designated NS-13, is scheduled for lift off on Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 1100 EDT (1500 UTC). This launch will mark the 13th New Shepard mission and the 7th consecutive flight for this specific vehicle, and a record. Blue Origin certainly is showing it’s reusability. 

The mission will consist of 12 different commercial payloads to space and back. Also, included the Deorbit, Descent, and Landing Sensor Demonstration with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate under a Tipping Point partnership. It will be the first payload to fly fixed on the exterior of the booster. This will pave a new path of a wide scope of future high-altitude sensing, sampling, and exposure payloads.

The lunar landing sensor demo will test accurate landing innovations for future missions to the Moon, supporting the Artemis program. The analysis will check how these advances (sensors, computers, and calculations) cooperate to decide a rocket’s location and speed as it moves toward the Moon. This will empower a vehicle to land self-governingly on the lunar surface inside 100m (meters) of an assigned point. The advancements could permit future missions—both manned and mechanical. This would target landing destinations that weren’t conceivable during the Apollo missions. For example, areas with miscellaneous terrain around craters. Accomplishing high precision landing will empower long haul lunar eplorations and future Mars missions.

This is the first of two launches to test lunar landing innovations, expanding certainty for effective missions in the Artemis program. NS-13 is essential for the safety process to test these sorts of sensors for future missions.

New Shepard booster undergoing integration and testing of the sensor experiment at Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site | photo: Blue Origin

As an aspect of NASA’s Artemis Human Landing System program, Blue Origin is also driving the National Team, in the likes of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper to build up a Human Landing System to restore Americans to the lunar surface. The innovation for the Blue Origin Descent Element that takes space explorers to the lunar surface is from the autonomous landing capabilities created for the New Shepard program.

Highlights of the manifested payloads flying on NS-13:   

Space Lab Technologies: µG-LilyPond is an autonomous plant growth system for use in microgravity. The ultimate goal is to produce highly nutritious, aquatic plants to supplement a crew’s diet. During this flight, the µG-LilyPond payload will demonstrate thin film hydroponics (growth of plants without soil) using passive capillary flow. The payload was developed by Space Lab Technologies in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder. NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program provided funding for payload development and flight aboard New Shepard. 

Southwest Research Institute: SwRI will fly two payloads, BORE II and LAD-2. BORE II will test a novel system for sampling regolith and anchoring to asteroids and other low-gravity destinations. The goal of this system is to advance exploration and support in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). The LAD-2 payload will demonstrate how liquid and gas interface in microgravity. Applications include cryogenic propellant storage and management for in-space propulsion systems. Both payload flights were funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program. 

NASA: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in collaboration with the University of Maryland, will re-fly the FBMC (Flow Boiling in Microgap Coolers) payload. This award-winning payload demonstrates an embedded cooling technology for power-dense spacecraft electronics that operate in a range of gravity environments. NASA’s Flight Opportunities program funded the payload flight test. 

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Jon Van Horne
Jon Van Horne

He began his career in media as a multimedia designer and developer in Montreal, Quebec. He developed a passion for media during his job in Photography and Video at a Montreal media content company. Other passions in media, photography/videography and soon going back to school in engineering.

reference: Blue Origin