Blue Origin to Ramp Up Flight Rate

New Shepard booster executes a controlled vertical landing at 4.2 mph. (Credit: Blue Origin)
New Shepard booster executes a controlled vertical landing at 4.2 mph. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson says the company plans to ramp up New Shepard flight tests as the year progresses.

After completing two successful flights of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle in two months, Blue Origin plans to increase the frequency of future test flights, with dozens more planned before the company is ready to start flying people….

“We expect to shorten that turnaround time over time this year, and fly this vehicle again and again,” he said. Those upcoming tests will use the same New Shepard vehicle that flew the previous two flights, with hardware and software modifications as needed between flights.

Meyerson said the company still plans to perform “dozens” of test flights of New Shepard over the next couple of years before the company is ready to carry people on the vehicle. “It really depends on how the flight test program goes,” he said. “It could be a little faster than that, or it could be a little longer than that, depending on what we learn.”

Blue Origin, though, does expect to start carrying uncrewed research payloads on New Shepard later this year. The company has been working with researchers at Purdue University, the University of Central Florida and Louisiana State University to provide initial “pathfinder” experiments that will fly on the vehicle. “We hope to fly those payloads this year,” he said.

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