News Brief

Blue Origin's New Shepard To Fly First Indian Space Tourist Among Other Astronauts Today: Here's All About It

Bhuvan Krishna

May 19, 2024, 04:23 PM | Updated 04:23 PM IST

Blue Origin's New Shephard rocket (Pic Via Blue Origin Website)
Blue Origin's New Shephard rocket (Pic Via Blue Origin Website)

Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin is set to resume space flights nearly two years after a 2022 mission failure halted crewed operations.

The NS-25 mission will launch from Launch Site One in West Texas at or after 8:30 am CT on Sunday (19 May) i.e. 7 pm IST as per a report by The Indian Express.

This mission will carry six crew members, including Gopi Thotakura, a commercial jet pilot and entrepreneur who will become the first Indian space tourist. The flight will also include former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, the first Black astronaut candidate in the United States.

This mission marks the seventh human flight for the New Shepard program and the 25th in its history. To date, the program has flown 31 humans above the Kármán line.

In September 2022, the New Shepard rocket was grounded after an uncrewed mission failed roughly a minute after liftoff from Texas, forcing the rocket’s capsule, full of NASA experiments, to safely eject mid-flight.

The US Federal Aviation Administration concluded its review of Blue Origin’s New Shepard investigation last year, agreeing with the company’s findings and requiring Blue Origin to implement 21 corrective actions, including an engine redesign and organisational changes.

New Shepard astronauts ascend toward space at more than three times the speed of sound, passing the Kármán line, the internationally recognized boundary of space 62 miles (100 km) above Earth. After experiencing zero gravity, the crew returns under parachutes.

Before the spaceflight, a two-day on-site astronaut training program briefs astronauts on New Shepard’s mission profile, safety systems, zero-g protocols, and mission simulations.

After the spaceflight, nearly 99 per cent of New Shepard’s dry mass is reused, including its capsule, booster, and engine. Its engine is fueled by highly efficient liquid oxygen and hydrogen, producing only water vapour with no carbon emissions during flight.

The NS-25 mission crew includes Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L Hess, Carol Schaller, Gopi Thotakura, and former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, who was selected by President John F Kennedy in 1961 as the nation’s first black astronaut candidate but was never granted the opportunity to fly to space.

Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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