Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket is expected to make its fifteenth test flight tomorrow as a dress rehearsal before a manned launch.
NS-15 flight is targeting liftoff on Wednesday, April 14, from Launch Site One in West Texas. Launch coverage begins at T-1 hour on BlueOrigin.com with the launch window opening at 8:00am CDT / 13:00 UTC and will include live footage of the astronaut rehearsal activities.
The New Shepard 15 (NS-15) flight is billed by Blue Origin as a verification step for the vehicle and operations prior to flying astronauts.
Blue Origin, which was founded by billionaire Amazon-founder and CEO in 2000 ran just one test flight last year during October. The sub-orbital vehicle being used for NS-15 was first flown in January this year and will be used for the company’s first manned flight.
The New Shepard reusable launch system is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing rocket being developed by Blue Origin for suborbital space tourism and other commercial applications.
During the NS-15 test, astronaut operational exercises will be conducted in preparation for human space flight, with Blue Origin personnel standing in as astronauts and entering into the capsule prior to launch.
The astronauts will climb the launch tower, get into their seats, buckle their harnesses, and conduct a communications check from their seat with CAPCOM, the Capsule Communicator. The tower operations team will prepare the capsule cabin for launch and then briefly close the capsule hatch. The astronauts will then exit the capsule prior to launch.
Post-landing, the astronauts will get inside the capsule to rehearse hatch opening, and exiting the capsule at the landing site.
Inside the capsule during the flight will be a dummy the company has called Mannequin Skywalker, along with more than 25,000 postcards on behalf of Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s nonprofit organization