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Blue Origin Returns New Shepard to Flight 

By Rachel Jewett | December 19, 2023

      The booster landing in Dec. 19 New Shepard launch. Photo: Blue Origin

      Blue Origin returned the New Shepard suborbital launch vehicle to flight on Tuesday, more than a year after a New Shepard rocket exploded during a test flight in September 2022.  

      The New Shepard is the suborbital rocket that launches Blue Origin’s crew capsule, the same rocket that sent Jeff Bezos to the edge of space in July 2021. This was New Shepard’s 24th flight and 13th payload mission.

      The uncrewed mission carried 33 payloads, more than half of which were developed and flown with support from NASA. Others come from schools, universities, and science-focused organizations. 

      New Shepard launched from Launch Site One in West Texas on Dec. 19 at 10:42 a.m. CST. The crew capsule successfully separated from the booster. The BE-3 engine booster successfully returned to Earth, 7 minutes and 28 seconds into the mission. 

      The crew capsule reached an apogee of 347,601 feet and returned to Earth with its parachutes, ending the mission at 10 minutes and 13 seconds.

      “A special thank you to all of our customers who flew important science today and the students who contributed postcards to advance our future of living and working in space for the benefit of Earth,” said Phil Joyce, senior vice president of New Shepard. “Demand for New Shepard flights continues to grow and we’re looking forward to increasing our flight cadence in 2024.”