Blue Origin will launch six more people to the final frontier this morning (June 4), and you can watch the action live.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle is scheduled to lift off today at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) from the company’s West Texas launch site, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the town of Van Horn. You can watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of Blue Origin, or directly via the company (opens in new tab). The webcast will start at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT).
New Shepard consists of a rocket and a capsule, both of which are reusable. The rocket comes down for a vertical, powered landing, much as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 orbital rockets do, and the capsule makes parachute-aided touchdowns.
Each New Shepard mission lasts about 11 minutes from liftoff to capsule touchdown. (The rocket lands a few minutes before the capsule does.) Passengers aboard the automated vehicle experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see Earth against the blackness of space.
Saturday’s flight will be the 21st for New Shepard overall, which explains the mission moniker — NS-21. But it will be just the fifth flight to carry people, following crewed suborbital missions in July, October and December of 2021 and on March 31 of this year.
One of the NS-21 crewmembers is 26-year-old Katya Echazarreta, a science communicator who will become the first Mexican-born woman to reach space and the youngest American woman to do so. Another is Evan Dick, an engineer and investor poised to be the first-ever repeat New Shepard crewmember. (Dick also flew on NS-19, which launched in December.)
Echazarreta’s seat is sponsored by Space for Humanity, which aims to expand our species’ access to space. And fellow NS-21 crewmate Victor Correa Hespanha was subsidized by the Crypto Space Agency (opens in new tab). But the other four passengers apparently paid for the trip out of their own pockets.
It’s unclear how much they plunked down; Blue Origin has not revealed its ticket price. For perspective, competitor Virgin Galactic currently charges $450,000 for a seat aboard its VSS Unity suborbital space plane, which is not fully operational yet.
NS-21 was originally supposed to launch on May 20, but Blue Origin pushed the liftoff back after discovering a potential issue with one of New Shepard’s backup systems. The company has not provided any details about the issue or its solution.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).