Among the several companies that want to put humans into space is one called Blue Origin. It has a fully reusable rocket and capsule called New Shepherd, and its NS-15 flight is targeting a liftoff tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14, from Launch Site One in West Texas. The launch window opens at 8 AM CDT.
Blue Origin says the launch builds on the incremental and consecutive mission successes for the vehicle during the program flight history. NS-15 is a verification step for the flight vehicle and operations before flying astronauts. During this week’s mission, astronaut operational exercises will be conducted in preparation for human spaceflight.
The mission’s primary operation will have Blue Origin personnel standing in as astronauts entering into the capsule before launch. The astronauts will climb the launch tower, get into their seats, buckle harnesses, and conduct communications checks from their seats with CAPCOM, the Capsule Communicator.
As the astronauts perform their part of the mission, tower operations will prepare the capsule cabin for launch and then briefly close the capsule hatch. Astronauts will exit the capsule before launch. After landing, the astronauts will get inside the capsule to rehearse the hatch opening sequence and exiting the capsule at the landing site.
While no humans will be inside the capsule during the flight, Mannequin Skywalker, along with 25,000 postcards, will be placed inside on behalf of Blue Origin’s nonprofit organization Club for the Future will be placed inside. Blue Origin points out that all mission crew supporting the launch are exercising social distancing and safety measures for Covid-19. Lunch coverage will begin and T-1 hour on the Blue Origin website.