Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket Is Finally Returning to Flight After More Than a Year of Grounding

Jeff Bezos’ space venture, Blue Origin, has scheduled the first flight of its New Shepard rocket in over a year for Monday, December 18. The rocket will take off from the company’s West Texas facility at 9:30AM ET and will be live-streamed. This flight will not carry a crew, but will instead have science and research payloads on board, as well as 38,000 student postcards.

Of the 24 flights that the reusable suborbital rocket has completed in the past, six have had humans on board its crew capsule. In September 2022, an uncrewed New Shepard experienced a failure after takeoff, but was able to abort the capsule and make a safe parachute landing. Following an investigation by the FAA, it was determined that the cause of the issue was the failure of an engine nozzle that overheated. Blue Origin was given 21 corrective actions to complete before being cleared to fly again, and the FAA closed its investigation at the end of September.