The New Shepard booster descends onto the landing pad.
News | Sep 22, 2020

New Shepard Mission NS-13 Launch Updates


New Shepard Successfully Completes Mission with NASA Precision Lunar Landing Technology Onboard    

Blue Origin successfully completed the 13th New Shepard mission to space and back, and the 7th consecutive flight for this particular vehicle, a record. Catch the mission webcast replay on Blue Origin's YouTube page.

There were 12 payloads onboard including the Deorbit, Descent, and Landing Sensor Demonstration under the NASA Tipping Point partnership. The lunar landing sensor demo was the first payload to be mounted on the exterior of a New Shepard booster and tested technology designed to achieve high accuracy landing. This will enable long-term lunar exploration, as well as future Mars missions.

The booster expels smoke and orange exhaust, kicking up dust as it descends. The bottom half of the frame is dark and smoky.

“Today's flight was inspiring. Using New Shepard to simulate landing on the Moon is an exciting precursor to what the Artemis program will bring to America,” said Bob Smith, CEO, Blue Origin. “Thanks to NASA for partnering with us, and congrats to the Blue Origin team on taking another step toward returning to the Moon to stay.” 

Key Mission Stats

  • 7th consecutive successful flight to space and back for this New Shepard vehicle (a record – previous booster completed 5 consecutive successful flights before retirement). 

  • 13th consecutive successful crew capsule landing (every flight in program). 

  • The crew capsule reached an apogee of 346,964 ft above ground level (AGL) / 350,611 ft mean sea level (MSL) (105 km AGL/106 km MSL). 

  • The booster reached an apogee of 346,563 ft AGL /350,210 ft MSL (105 km AGL/106 km MSL). 

  • The mission elapsed time was 10 min 9 sec and the max ascent velocity was 2,232 mph/3,592 km/h. 

  • The mission carried tens of thousands of postcards from Blue Origin’s nonprofit, Club for the Future, some of which include a NASA Artemis stamp.

All mission crew supporting this launch exercised strict social distancing and safety measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks to personnel, customers, and surrounding communities.

If you’d like to purchase a commemorative patch of the NS-13 mission, head to the Blue Origin Shop.

  —Gradatim Ferociter

8:30 AM CDT / 13:30 UTC — OCTOBER 12

New Shepard is targeting liftoff tomorrow Oct. 13 at 8:35 AM CDT / 13:35 UTC for the NS-13 Mission. Join the live webcast at T-30 minutes.

7:09 AM CDT / 12:09 UTC — SEPTEMBER 25

New Shepard NS-13 launch is a no go for today. We are working to verify a fix on a technical issue and taking an extra look before we fly. New launch target forthcoming.

4:30 PM CDT / 21:30 UTC — SEPTEMBER 24

New Shepard NS-13 mission with NASA Tipping Point experiment is now slated for launch at 10:00 AM CDT / 15:00 UTC tomorrow, Sept. 25. Webcast starts T-30 minutes.

10:10 AM CDT / 15:10 UTC — SEPTEMBER 24

We’ve detected a potential issue with the power supply to the experiments. Launch is scrubbed for today. New launch target forthcoming.

8:55 AM CDT / 13:55 UTC — SEPTEMBER 24

The Tipping Point experiment today requires clear weather to gather usable data. We’ve delayed launch until 11:40 AM CDT / 16:40 UTC to allow for the cloud cover to clear in West Texas. Stay tuned for updates. Watch the live webcast here.


Next New Shepard Launch Will Test Key Technologies with NASA for Returning to the Moon

Blue Origin’s next New Shepard mission (NS-13) is currently targeting liftoff for Thursday, September 24, at 10:00 am CDT / 15:00 UTC. Current weather conditions are favorable. This will be the 13th New Shepard mission and the 7th consecutive flight for this particular vehicle (a record), demonstrating its operational reusability.

New Shepard will fly 12 commercial payloads to space and back on this mission, including the Deorbit, Descent, and Landing Sensor Demonstration with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate under a Tipping Point partnership. This is the first payload to fly mounted on the exterior of a New Shepard booster rather than inside the capsule, opening the door to a wide range of future high-altitude sensing, sampling, and exposure payloads.

An infographic showing a suite of lunar landing sensor technologies Blue Origin and NASA are testing for future missions to the Moon.

The lunar landing sensor demo will test precision landing technologies for future missions to the Moon in support of the Artemis program. The experiment will verify how these technologies (sensors, computers, and algorithms) work together to determine a spacecraft’s location and speed as it approaches the Moon, enabling a vehicle to land autonomously on the lunar surface within 100 meters of a designated point. The technologies could allow future missions—both crewed and robotic—to target landing sites that weren’t possible during the Apollo missions, such as regions with varied terrain near craters. Achieving high accuracy landing will enable long-term lunar exploration and future Mars missions.

This is the first of two flights to test these lunar landing technologies, increasing confidence for successful missions in the Artemis program. NS-13 is part of the risk reduction process to test these types of sensors for future missions.

A close-up of the ring and upper portion of the booster where NASA's lunar landing sensor demo is mounted on the exterior.

New Shepard booster undergoing integration and testing of the sensor experiment at Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site.

As a part of NASA’s Artemis Human Landing System program, Blue Origin is also leading the National Team, comprised of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, to develop a Human Landing System to return Americans to the lunar surface. The technology for the Blue Origin Descent Element that takes astronauts to the lunar surface is derived from the autonomous landing capabilities developed for the New Shepard program.  

New Shepard has flown more than 100 payloads to space across 10 sequential flights. Payloads on board NS-13 include experiments from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics LaboratorySouthwest Research InstituteNASA Flight OpportunitiesSpace Lab TechnologiesUniversity of FloridaSpace Environment Technologies, and mu Space Corp. A selection of the manifested payloads can be found below.

Also on board will be tens of thousands of postcards from Blue Origin’s nonprofit, Club for the Future, some of which will include a special NASA Artemis stamp.

All mission crew supporting this launch are exercising strict social distancing and safety measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks to personnel, customers, and surrounding communities.

You can watch the launch live at The pre-show begins at T-30 minutes and will provide mission details, including a special update from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Follow @BlueOrigin on Twitter and Instagram for launch updates.

 —Gradatim Ferociter

Highlights of the manifested payloads flying on NS-13:   

Space Lab TechnologiesµG-LilyPond is an autonomous plant growth system for use in microgravity. The ultimate goal is to produce highly nutritious, aquatic plants to supplement a crew’s diet. During this flight, the µG-LilyPond payload will demonstrate thin film hydroponics (growth of plants without soil) using passive capillary flow. The payload was developed by Space Lab Technologies in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder. NASA's Small Business Innovation Research program provided funding for the technical development of the experiment; the payload’s flight was funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program.

Southwest Research Institute: SwRI will fly two payloads, BORE II and LAD-2. BORE II will test a novel system for sampling regolith and anchoring to asteroids and other low-gravity destinations. The goal of this system is to advance exploration and support in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). The LAD-2 payload will demonstrate how liquid and gas interface in microgravity. Applications include cryogenic propellant storage and management for in-space propulsion systems. Both payload flights were funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program.

NASA: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in collaboration with the University of Maryland, will re-fly the FBMC (Flow Boiling in Microgap Coolers) payload. This award-winning payload demonstrates an embedded cooling technology for power-dense spacecraft electronics that operate in a range of gravity environments. NASA’s Flight Opportunities program funded the payload flight test.