Blue Origin to Send Humans to Space in First Mission in Two Years

Blue Origin NS-25 mission patch 13 photos
Photo: Blue Origin
Blue Origin readies for NS-25 missionBlue Origin NS-25 crewBlue Origin NS-25 mission patchNew Shepard rocket is headed to the edge of spaceNew Shepard rocket is getting ready for take offNew Shepard rocket is headed to the edge of spaceNew Shepard rocket is headed to the edge of spaceThe rocket booster has landed back at Blue Origin's Launch Site One in West TexasJeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation legend Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen are in the capsule after a safe touchdownJeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation legend Wally FunkAviation legend Wally FunkNew Shepard rocket is headed to the edge of space
A couple of years ago the world was engulfed in a space race the likes of which it had never seen before. For the first time in history, three private companies were competing to send civilians with no long-term astronaut training into space. Since that time, the pace seems to have slowed down a bit.
The three companies are SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin. Elon Musk's company sent a single civilian crew to space to date, and also the most impressive: back in 2021, a crew of four people, including one with a prosthetic leg bone, spent almost three days in space.

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic managed to far to conduct six space missions, but in its case things are far less spectacular. Although the launch method – a spacecraft departing from underneath a carrier plane at a set altitude – is spectacular, the trip itself is not, because it offers only a few minutes of experiencing space.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin offers the same thrills as Virgin, only it launches in the conventional fashion, straight up from a launch pad. The company's spacecraft, New Shepard, did this six times already, taking to space both the oldest man (William Shatner, 90) and the oldest woman (Wally Funk, 82).

Blue Origin's last crewed mission, the sixth, departed back in 2022, carrying with it six people, including the first Egyptian and the first Portuguese nationals to travel to space. And then, a sort of mini-disaster followed.

The same year the sixth mission departed, an uncrewed New Shepard (mission NS-24) suffered an engine nozzle problem, which led to the failure of the mission in the sense the science instruments on board failed to reach space. The capsule carrying them did land safely, though.

The investigation that followed and the required fixes kept Blue Origin out of the private space race until the end of 2023, when the NS-24 mission, also uncrewed, managed to lift off and do its thing.

NS-25 will mark Blue Origin's return to crewed spaceflights. The mission, scheduled to leave our planet on May 19, will become the company's seventh flight into orbit with humans on board.

Six people will be in the capsule, including Ed Dwight, America's first black astronaut candidate, who was personally chosen by President John F. Kennedy to enter astronaut training in 1961. He never got to fly on actual NASA missions.

He will be accompanied by Mason Angel, founder of Industrious Ventures, Sylvain Chiron, founder of one of France's largest craft breweries (Brasserie Mont Blanc), Ken Hess, the creator of the Family Tree Maker, Carol Schaller, a retired CPA and adventurer, and Gopi Thotakura, co-founder of Preserve Life Corp.

Blue Origin targets launch at 8:30 AM CDT on May 19, and it will begin a webcast, available on the company's official website, 40 minutes prior to launch.
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Editor's note: Gallery also shows images from the NS-22 mission.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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