Blue Origin calls off 1st New Shepard rocket launch since 2022 failure due to ‘ground system issue’ (Image Credit: Space.com)
Blue Origin’s first mission in more than 15 months was officially delayed on Monday (Dec. 18) after a last-minute scrub.
Blue Origin‘s New Shepard suborbital vehicle was originally supposed to lift off as early as 9:30 a.m. EST (1430 GMT or 8:30 a.m. EST) on Monday. Following a one-hour delay due to cold temperatures at the company’s West Texas site, however, Blue Origin announced a scrub on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“We’re scrubbing #NS24 today due to a ground system issue the team is troubleshooting. We’ll provide a new launch target for this week soon,” officials wrote on X.
New Shepard can send both people and payloads to suborbital space, but it has remained grounded since an anomaly occurred during an uncrewed flight on Sept. 12, 2022. That launch saw New Shepard’s first-stage booster destroyed, although the capsule deployed parachutes successfully and landed nearby with its 36 research payloads.
A mishap investigation, run by Blue Origin itself, found the cause of the crash was an engine nozzle’s “thermo-structural failure.” That’s the engine powering New Shepard’s booster. Blue Origin later made design changes to the engine in preparation for future flights.
The next mission on tap for the company will be uncrewed, just like the last one. This new mission, called NS-24 as it’d be the 24th launch for New Shepard, includes 33 research payloads. More than half of them were “developed and flown with support from NASA,” Blue Origin wrote in a mission description.
“Others come from K-12 schools, universities, and STEAM-focused organizations,” officials added in the description. (STEAM stands for “science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.”)
Also on board NS-24 are 38,000 postcards for “Club for the Future.” That’s a Blue Origin-founded nonprofit aiming to incite interest in space exploration and related topics among young people.