Blue Origin, the private aerospace manufacturer founded by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, will be launching its first mission for 2020 – a suborbital mission with its reusable New Shepard rocket that will test critical parts of its human landing system (HLS) to be used in the Artemis flight in 2024.
The upcoming flight will be the first for Blue Origin this 2020, marking the 13th launch for the New Shepard project. It follows the twelfth New Shepard flight last December 11, 2019.
The Blue Origin New Shepard will carry a total of 12 payloads, which includes a Deorbit, Descent, and Landing Sensor Demonstration system – a critical part of the Human Landing System, or moon lander.
Together with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Dynetics, Blue Origin is one of the three aerospace developers independently working to develop its own HLS to be used in carrying “the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon” by 2024. The findings and discoveries made from the first Artemis missions will be used in establishing a base for future visitors, and the next exploration stage which is Mars.
In a press release from the company’s website, the upcoming mission (NS-13), the demonstration will be in partnership with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. Its HLS-related payload will be mounted on the exterior of New Shepard’s booster, instead of being loaded within the capsule. According to Blue Origin, it will open “the door to a wide range of future high-altitude sensing, sampling, and exposure payloads.”
The Artemis-related payloads will be sent to verify how Blue Origin-developed techs – sensors, computers, and algorithms – will respond to pinpoint the lander’s location as it approaches the Moon. Should these sections of the HLS work together, it should allow the NASA craft to land on the Moon’s surface, without human intervention, within 100 meters of its target landing point.
Blue Origin’s lunar techs could pave the way for future missions, with or without human crews onboard, to choose from landing sites that were previously impossible with the Apollo mission technology, like regions with varying terrain and those near craters.
The upcoming NS-13 flight is the first of two flights to test these HLS technologies, both designed to increase confidence for the Artemis program’s success. Under the Artemis Human Landing System Program, Blue Origin is working together with other defense and aerospace contractors including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper. The Descent Element incorporated into the ongoing Blue Origin HLS project is derived from its New Shepard’s autonomous landing capabilities.
Other payloads for the New Shepard NS-13 will include experimental setups from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, NASA Flight Opportunities, Space Lab Technologies, Southwest Research Institute, University of Florida, Space Environment Technologies, and mu Space Corp.
Also, NS-13 will be carrying “tens of thousands of postcards” from Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s nonprofit that inspires youth to pursue STEM-related careers, with the press release noting that some will include a special NASA Artemis stamp.
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Blue Origin, NASA, Jeff Bezos, New Shepard, Space station, SpaceX
World news – GB – Jeff Bezos’ Aerospace Company, Blue Origin, Will Test Moon Lander in First 2020 Flight