TechBlue Origin shakes off past disaster with a successful launch. Bezos vs Musk in new space race

Blue Origin shakes off past disaster with a successful launch. Bezos vs Musk in new space race

Landing of the New Shepard 24 rocket booster
Landing of the New Shepard 24 rocket booster
Images source: © Blue Origin
10:22 AM EST, December 20, 2023

The NS-24 was slated to launch on Monday, December 18, 2023, however, due to issues with ground-based launch systems, it was delayed. The subsequent attempt, conducted on December 19 at 11:44 AM (Eastern Time), proved successful. This marks Blue Origin's first launch in over 15 months. Much like the preceding failed mission, NS-23, which ended with the vehicle crashing, the NS-24 mission was carried out without any crew members.

The progression of NS-24

On-board NS-24 (so named because it's the 24th launch of the New Shepard spacecraft) were 33 research payloads, over half of which were developed in partnership with NASA. The remaining payload consisted of 38 thousand postcards, slated for distribution to Club for the Future, a non-profit organization founded by Blue Origin. The organization's objective is to spark interest in space exploration among youths. With this payload, the booster and capsule voyaged into space from the company's headquarters in West Texas.

The booster propelled the New Shepard capsule to an altitude surpassing 62 miles above Earth's surface, crossing the standard boundary of space. Following the separation of these components, their descent back to Earth commenced. Per the plan, the rocket vertically landed at 11:51 AM (Eastern Time), not far from the launch site, while the capsule gently descended on parachutes shortly afterward. This was captured live during the broadcast. The company has yet to announce when there will be a space tour for any tourists.

Blue Origin reclaims its position

The successful completion of the NS-24 mission holds immense significance for billionaire Jeff Bezos' company, Blue Origin. The FAA's flight suspension, which was enforced following the previous disaster, severely impacted key projects involving Blue Origin, including Amazon's Kuiper project that is geared to rival Elon Musk's Starlink.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are known to be competitors in the private space exploration race. The exact extent to which this rivalry extends, or whether it’s merely a marketing tactic, is known only to the PR teams of these respective billionaires and their companies.

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