Blue Origin launches New Shepard rocket with NASA moon-landing technology

Uncrewed mission launched Thursday morning from Texas

Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket Thursday morning from Texas, carrying a payload from NASA that will test technologies the space agency is using to develop a human landing system for future missions to the moon.

The uncrewed mission, NS-17, launched just after 10:30 a.m. EDT from the company’s West Texas site. The booster and capsule landed about 10 minutes later.

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The Blue Origin capsule was also carrying other experiments from NASA and the University of Florida.

“After flying more than 100 payloads to space on New Shepard, today’s 8th flight of this vehicle carried NASA-sponsored and commercial experiments, including the second flight of NASA’s lunar landing technology that will one day allow us to further explore the Moon’s surface,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in a statement. “We are grateful to NASA for partnering with us once again on this experiment, and we are proud of the Blue Origin team for executing a great flight in support of all our customers.”

One of the NASA payloads is the OSCAR project, which stands for Orbital Syngas/Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR). The technology turns trash into gases like methane for fuel. The project is under development at Kennedy Space Center led by Dr. Annie Meier.

The launch plan includes takeoff, separation of the capsule, a controlled return powered landing for the booster and a parachute-assisted landing for the capsule after a few minutes spent in suborbital space.

Blue Origin’s previous launch was its first human flight, carrying Jeff Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen to suborbital space.

This marked the 4th New Shepard launch of the year and the 8th flight for this particular vehicle.

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Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.