Blue Origin NS-13 launch scrubbed today

Chris Davies - Sep 24, 2020, 11:47am CDT
Blue Origin NS-13 launch scrubbed today

Blue Origin has scrubbed its launch today, with the New Shepard NS-13 mission now postponed due to a potential technical issue. The thirteenth mission for New Shepard, today’s liftoff was to be the seventh consecutive flight for the same Blue Origin rocket, and would have been a record for the company.

According to a new update posted by Blue Origin, it’s not the rocket that’s causing the concern but the cargo it was to take with it. “We’ve detected a potential issue with the power supply to the experiments,” the company tweeted. “Launch is scrubbed for today. New launch target forthcoming.”

NS-13 was intended to take twelve commercial payloads with it. That includes the “Deorbit, Descent, and Landing Sensor Demonstration,” in partnership with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate under a Tipping Point partnership. It was to test precision landing technologies that NASA could eventually use in the Artemis program for crewed missions to the Moon.

The demo distinguished itself as the first payload Blue Origin’s New Shepard would carry on the outside of one of the booster rockets, rather than inside the capsule itself. Had that gone according to plan, it would’ve paved the way for a new category of payloads that could do high-altitude sensing, sampling, and exposure tests.

Also onboard was to be the Space Lab Technologies’ µG-LilyPond, an autonomous plant growth system for use in microgravity. That aims to explore how hydroponics could be used to grow aquatic plants for crewed space missions. Meanwhile, the Southwest Research Institute has two payloads, BORE II and LAD-2, which were to test an asteroid anchoring system and how liquid and gas interface in microgravity, respectively.

In addition to its Artemis research, NASA also had a potential cooling system for power-dense electronics on spacecraft loaded. The FBMC, or Flow Boiling in Microgap Coolers, has already been trialed once, and NS-13 was to re-deploy it.

NS-13 also had “tens of thousands of postcards” onboard, organized through its nonprofit, Club for the Future.

It’s unclear whether the power supply to all experiments was affected and forced today’s mission scrub, or if a specific payload was the cause of the concern. We’ll presumably find out more as Blue Origin stands down and makes whatever investigation and repairs are necessary. The company will announce a new launch date after that.

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