Space exploration firm Blue Origin has delayed the test flight of its suborbital vehicle New Shepard that was scheduled for 18thDecember to 21st January from its test site in Western Texas to coincide with Federal Aviation Administration’s directive restricting airspace usage in the area between 8.30 am to 3 pm between 21st January and 23 January. As per company announcement the flight plan was delayed due to some infrastructure issues on the ground that was not specified. As after correction of the problem, the company staff had to check for functioning of additional systems they had to delay the launch by almost a month.
This will be the first test for New Shepard after July last year when it was tested for functioning of its crew capsule abort motor. During its flight this time the New Shepard will be carrying out nine experiments provided by Flight Opportunities Programs of NASA along with several other universities and institutes. It will have payloads comprising of microgravity research, planetary research and technology demonstration to monitor conditions of the vehicle. The crewless vehicle will be carrying only technical payloads in its maiden flight though sometime by end of 2019 it has plans to start sending people out in its capsule.
At a recent meeting of Transportation Research Board its head of astronaut strategy Ariane Cornell stated that though they have not started selling tickets for commercial flight nor decided the ticket prices as it will send scientists and engineers in its early manned flights for carrying out experiments along with payloads. Its close competitor Virgin Galactic is will begin its commercial flights into space from this year and its founder Richard Branson has announced that he will be on its maiden crewed test flight. This prompted Cornell to say that though she too is keen on taking the first crewed flight she is very particular about its success and safety.