Featured Image: Blue Origin
Lift Off Time
|July 20, 2021 – 13:00 UTC | 08:00 CDT|
|NS-16, first crewed launch of a New Shepard vehicle|
|New Shepard 4|
Launch Site One, Corn Ranch, Texas, USA
Where is the spacecraft going?
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
Where will the first stage land?
|It will land at Blue Origin’s landing pad, ~3.3 km (~2 miles) from the launch site|
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
|There are no fairings on the New Shepard vehicle|
Are these fairings new?
|There are no fairings on the New Shepard vehicle|
How’s the weather looking?
This will be the:
|– 1st crewed launch on New Shepard |
– 16th launch of a New Shepard rocket
– Launch of the oldest person to space (82 years old)
– Launch of the youngest person to space (18 years old)
Where to watch
|Official livestream – to begin at 11:30 UTC | 06:30 CDT|
Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, will be streaming at T-30 minutes; come ask questions and join the conversation live!
What’s all this mean?
For the first time ever, Blue Origin will be launching humans on the flight proven New Shepard 4 rocket on their NS-16 mission. To put an even better twist, founder of Blue Origin and the largely successful Amazon, Jeff Bezos, will also be flying to space on the New Shepard capsule. Similarly to the last 15 flights, New Shepard will launch the capsule on a sub-orbital trajectory. However, this time, four out of the six seats inside the capsule will be filled with living, breathing people.
Who is on NS-16?
Founder of Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos, will be hitching a ride to space on his New Shepard 4 rocket. Bezos founded the company in 2000 which was initially focused on propulsion systems. In 2005, Bezos further focused his adolescent company to build a sub-orbital vertical launch and landing system called New Shepard. However, it was not until 10 years later when New Shepard flew for the first time.
Having also founded Amazon, Jeff Bezos was able to supply funds for Blue Origin with his own money and from selling Amazon stock. Apart from Amazon, Bezos had always been fond of space. He had the inspiration for founding Blue Origin after watching the movie October Sky in 1999. Even in high school and college Bezos was amused by building hotels in space and making space more accessible to everyone.
With the flight of NS-16, Jeff Bezos will finally be able to fulfill his life long dream of feeling the unique sense of weightlessness and becoming the select few who have actually entered the vacuum of space to look back down on the beautiful Earth. A perspective that is indescribable.
Jeff Bezos has invited his brother, Mark Bezos, to join him on the once in a lifetime adventure. Mark and his brother are only separated by five years of age which allowed them to grow up together.
Mark and Jeff did not continue on similar career paths. While Jeff become a well-known entrepreneur, his brother stayed on the back end to help others. For many years he worked as the head of communications at the Robin Hood Foundation, which is a non-profit organization fighting poverty in New York.
Notably, Mark Bezos is also a volunteer firefighter in Westchester County. Mark has faced challenges and unique experiences before in this job, now he will get to face them in space.
A similarity between many of those who pioneered in the early days of aviation and spaceflight, Wally Funk is not always a widely spoken name like Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin. Funk is most known for being the first female board member for the FAA and NTSB.
However, before she worked in the big leagues, Funk left highschool when she was only 16. After studying to acquire her pilots license from Stephens College, she finished her education with a Bachelor’s In Science in Secondary education. Funk deeply yearned to be able to study for a degree in engineering; however at the time those were not offered to women almost anywhere.
In addition to her aviation positions, Wally Funk also worked at NASA as part of the Mercury 13. This group consisted of 13 women who never met, but were trained and evaluated very similarly to the male astronauts. None of these women ever went to space. However, Wally Funk is finally getting her chance. She will become the oldest person to travel to space at the age of 82.
The final participant on NS-16 is 18 year old Oliver Daemen. He graduated from high school in 2020 and will be attending the University of Utrecht in the fall. In addition, he will become the youngest person to ever fly to space.
Oliver’s dad, Joes Daemen, was the runner up to the winning bid and most likely chose his son to fly on NS-16. Since the winner of the auction is unable to fly, Blue Origin chose the next closest winner.
The winner of the months long auction to support Blue Origin’s Club for the Future will fly on a future mission due to “scheduling conflicts”. Blue Origin has not released any information regarding the identity of the winner.
What is the crew capsule?
The New Shepard Crew Capsule has the capability to carry up to six people in a large pressurized 15 m3 (530 ft3) interior. Blue Origin’s main goal is to open up the experience of microgravity and see the curvature of the Earth to the general public. Each large window can let through 92% of visible light despite its structural ability to hold pressure making the experience that much more clear.
For safety, the capsule has a built-in solid-fueled abort motor known as the Crew Capsule Escape Solid Rocket Motor (CCE-SRM) in the “pusher” configuration. Check out the Everyday Astronaut video and article on the differences and advantages/disadvantages to puller versus pusher configured motors. This motor comes from Aerojet Rocketdyne and has already been proof tested on the final flight of NS2.
What is New Shepard?
Aptly named New Shepard, after the first American to be launched on a suborbital trajectory, Alan Shepard, this rocket will only ever perform suborbital flights. So far there have been four New Shepard rockets built: NS1, NS2, NS3, and NS4. NS1 flew for the first time on April 29, 2015 and reached an altitude of 93.5 km (58.1 mi) before failing to land because of a hydraulic pressure issue. The capsule landed successfully by parachute and was recovered.
The New Shepard booster is powered by a single BE-3PM liquid-fueled engine with the capability of producing 489 kN (110,000 lbf) of thrust. The BE-3 is fueled by liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOx) and was developed and tested by Blue Origin in the 2000s.
After the failure of NS1, Blue Origin then moved on to NS2 which completed the first successful launch and landing of a New Shepard booster on November 23, 2015 after reaching an apex of 100.5 km (62.4 miles). This marked the first time that a New Shepard rocket had carried a capsule to just above the Kármán line, descended in a controlled fashion, and landed successfully on deployable landing legs. About a month later SpaceX did one better – they landed an orbital class rocket booster for the first time.
NS2 was also the booster to perform the famous in-flight abort where the Crew Capsule 2.0 fired its single solid-propellant abort motor at an altitude of 7.1 km (4.4 miles) to simulate a failure of the booster. This test was successful and both the capsule and booster were recovered. NS2 went on to complete five more successful test flights before it was retired.
After the retirement of NS2, Blue Origin had moved on to testing their still active NS3 vehicle. So far, NS3 has completed 7 successful flights with the first flight occurring on December 12, 2017. NS3 was also the booster to fly Crew Capsule 2.0, the second iteration of the capsule. Improvements to NS3 included enhanced recovery hardware to increase reusability, as well as increased thermal protection. There are more planned flights for NS3 with the next one being sometime during 2021.
NS4 for NS-16
NS-16 will be the third flight of the NS4 rocket. NS4 has some improved accessibility panels for easier cleaning and checkouts on the hardware. NS4 has already performed two flights, in which it landed successfully along with the capsule. These tests have given Blue Origin and the FAA confidence to fly humans on this booster.
So Jeffrey Boy is gonna ride the phlying phallus into space; The only version of “space” he will ever achieve. lol
Good luck to Bezos and crew on their upcoming launch. They have certainly worked long and hard for it.
Wally Funk was an excellent choice as a passenger. Glad that one of the Mercury 13 finally got to go. It has been a very long time in coming.
Pity the winner had to drop out, but having both the oldest and the youngest to space on the same flight is an interesting twist.
why is gateway propulsion and halo element (or power and propulsion element) to be launched by nasa on falcon heavy for gateway moon space station not first launched for iss to boost the iss us segment after russia retires russian iss segment and possibly deorbit them so that atleast the us segment remains in leo till a proper space station like axiom or bigelow are made, the propulsion an halo element on iss i think must work like zarya and zvezda on russian side that is to reboost iss like progress vehicles, the propellant will be transferred by a cargo dragon or cygnus or in near future dream chaser cargo variant and this may keep the iss us segment in place till around 2035 or 2040. moreover why the russian are leaving iss due to functionality problems like leaks in zvezda (like the reasons like making ross or lunar station with china) but thats the problem with russian segment no problem in us segment, i think propulsion element must be added to iss
Launching two Lunar Gateway segments on one rocket saves NASA the cost of a launch. Falcon Heavy is the only rocket currently in service capable of doing that. Joining and testing the two segments on the ground is also much easier than doing it in Lunar orbit.
The Lunar Gateway propulsion module isn’t anywhere near big enough for the ISS.
NASA owns the Zvezda module on the ISS. If and when the Russians leave that module will remain with the station. It does need to be replaced but that is a different problem.
Cygnus can perform reboosts if needed. This was tested back in 2018.
The Russians are threatening to leave as part of the latest round of budget negotiations. This is nothing new and is mostly grandstanding. If they leave ISS they will also lose Nauka and Zarya because they can’t afford to operate their own station.
Russia is trying to partner with China but they can’t reach the Chinese station from any launch site within Russia. They are in talks with France to lease or rent a French launch pad, but it remains to be seen if that will happen. It is possible that they will try to maintain a presence on both stations. China hasn’t shown much interest, which is why their station is in an orbit that Russia can’t reach.
None of that has anything to do with New Shepard.
But in case zvezda is no longer due to being discarded due to air leaks in it the best scenario I think since the unity module is dependant on zarya for survival after the removal of Russian modules they must keep the zarya attached since though it is made by Russia all money goes to USA so they make ask Russia to give them that module and later the power and propulsion element must attach in place of zvezda module and the power and propulsion element must be attached in the way nauka is attached this will thus keep the iss us segment alive after removal of iss Russian segment
By the way why are you not livestreaming nauka in proton rocket launch when you Livestreamed some cargo dragon launches earlier. this is the expansion of iss. Atleast please broadcast starliner oft 2 because it’s important as if this succeeds then next time you will might be lucky to live stream boring cft like crew dragon demo 2 mission and possibly future starliner flights like current crew dragon flights. There might be a gap in crew dragon flights in the time of crew 4 since nasa might then bring the rotation sequence of starliner and crew dragon with starliner 1 possibly flying that time. So this starliner oft 2 might be a good precursor to those Starliner flights.
Pictures on this page are partly not visible. Also, to me the second and third paragraph on Oliver Daemen are not understandable. Anyway, as always, thanks for the amazing work here on this website.
Hello Christoph! Can you further describe the issues with the images? It all looks good to me on my end. Also, how may we better word the paragraphs on Oliver? All feedback is welcome and appreciated! – Austin
Is this a new capsule?
NS-16 is the 3rd flight of the rocket New-Shepard 4 “RSS First Step”.
Any idea when the next flight might be? Presumably NS-17
This is the new capsule. Careful though, RSS First Step is the name of the capsule. No indication yet on future flights.