Blue Origin’s First Crewed Spaceflight in Two Years is Set for May 19th

Why Trust Techopedia
Key Takeaways

  • Blue Origin plans to launch its next crewed flight on May 19th.
  • It's the first human flight since August 2022.
  • A rocket failure in September 2022 put missions on hold.

Blue Origin has targeted the launch of NS-25, its first crewed New Shepard flight since 2022, for May 19th.

The launch window for the rocket opens at 9:30AM Eastern, with livestreamed coverage starting at 8:50AM. The complete trip from Blue Origin’s West Texas facility is expected to last about 11 minutes.

The highlight of the six-person flight is Ed Dwight, the first Black astronaut candidate. Other travellers include venture capital, brewery and wellness company founders, a genealogy entrepreneur, and a retired accountant.

The last human-occupied Blue Origin flight, NS-22, took place in August 2022. In September that year, the rocket in the NS-23 research mission failed and was destroyed.

The company halted flights while it investigated the problem, and ultimately pinpointed a “thermo-structural failure” on the rocket’s nozzle. The updated rocket launched again without a crew in December 2023.

More may hinge on this spaceflight than usual. Blue Origin hopes to handle uncrewed scientific missions as far as Mars with its heavy New Glenn rocket, and will land cargo and people on the Moon for some of NASA’s Artemis missions. A successful NS-25 flight would help show that Blue Origin is on track for those programs.

Jeff Bezos’ firm also faces mounting competition in the space tourism field. Virgin Galactic hopes to launch its next tourist spaceflight on June 8th. SpaceX, meanwhile, is edging closer to planned lunar tourism flights after completing its first successful Starship launch in March.

Blue Origin nonetheless has a relatively unique advantage in the industry. It has both an active space tourism program as well as years of government contracts — SpaceX has flown civilians into space, but not as tourists. It’s just a question of whether or not the company can maintain that position as competitors ramp up, and the landscape may change significantly in the next few years.