Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster heads for a touchdown after a test flight in December. (Blue Origin Photo)
NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has selected 15 promising space technologies for testing on suborbital flights, and almost half of them are set to fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship.
Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture, headquartered in Kent, Wash., started flying science payloads to the edge of space and back more than two years ago. This week’s NASA announcement solidifies Blue Origin’s status as a leader in suborbital space science missions.
New Shepard’s uncrewed test flights provide a few minutes of zero gravity, more scientifically known as microgravity. That’s long enough to see how a technology that’s designed for orbital use might fare during much longer stints of zero-G.
During this week’s visit to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, which is responsible for managing the Flight Opportunities program, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency wants to increase funding for suborbital science payloads.
“Flight Opportunities gives researchers and universities the opportunity to get involved with NASA,” Bridenstine said. “By increasing funding for payload integration and flights, we will continue to support and advance the commercial suborbital flight market.”