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Blue Origin to launch first crewed mission since grounding

Blue Origin will on Sunday launch its first crewed mission since being forced to ground its New Shepard vehicle in September 2022.

The space tourism company hopes to blast off six people, including the US’ first black astronaut candidate who never made it to space.

It comes after Blue Origin was forced to stop all flights nearly two years ago following a failure on a payload flight without any astronauts onboard.

However, on Tuesday, Blue Origin announced its seventh human flight, NS-25, will lift off from Launch Site One in West Texas on May 19.

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The launch window opens at 8:30 AM CDT / 1330 UTC and the mission will be livecast on blueorigin.com.

The six-person crew will include Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, Gopi Thotakura, and former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight.

“In 1961, Ed was chosen by President John F. Kennedy to enter training at the Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS), an elite U.S. Air Force flight training program known as a pathway for entering the NASA Astronaut Corps,” said Blue Origin.

“In 1963, after successfully completing the ARPS program, Ed was recommended by the U.S. Air Force for the NASA Astronaut Corps but ultimately was not among those selected.

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“He entered private life in 1966 and spent a decade as an entrepreneur before dedicating his life’s work to using sculpture as a medium to tell the story of Black history.”

Blue Origin added that Dwight’s is being sponsored by Space for Humanity, a nonprofit aiming to democratise access to space, with additional support from the Jaison and Jamie Robinson Foundation.

Space Connect has previously reported how Blue Origin concluded that the failed launch in 2022 was linked to an engine in the propulsion module.

The engine suffered a structural failure linked to operating at a temperature hotter than it was designed for.

While Sunday’s blast-off will be the first with a human crew since the incident, the company did launch a successful uncrewed flight in December last year.

Origin’s downtime allowed its biggest rival, Virgin Galactic, to gain ground in the space tourism business and launch its first commercial flights.

Galactic will appear at this month’s Australian Space Summit and Exhibition alongside the team behind the firm’s pioneering first commercial mission.

To find out more and book tickets, click here.

Galactic joins our lineup of headliners, including the Under Secretary of the US Air Force, the commander overseeing the US Space Force’s Indo-Pacific team, the new head of Australia’s Space Command, and the head of the Australian Space Agency.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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