Blue Origin launches new version of New Shepard on suborbital uncrewed test flight plus a new capsule

by | Jan 15, 2021 | Blue Origin, Launches, Seradata News, Suborbital

At 1717 GMT on 14 January, Blue Origin conducted a test flight from their Van Horn, Texas, facility. The subject was a re-engined version of the New Shepard vertically-launched, suborbital, spaceflight system. Additionally the mission was also evaluating a new capsule design. The new version of the booster uses the BE-3PM improved liquid hydrogen/liquid Oxygen (LOx) rocket engine. As well as this, the 14th test flight of New Shepard also flew a human-ready version of the crew capsule.

The capsule was unmanned – save for an instrumented dummy astronaut dubbed “Mannequin Skywalker”. Having reached an altitude of 106.9 km – beyond the traditional 100 km Karman limit for “spaceflight” –  the rocket descended to make a landing on its pad 7 minutes 23 seconds after lift off. The landing was a success, albeit that it had to make a last second swaying adjustment before touching down onto the pad. A few minutes after that – at T+ 10 minutes 10 seconds – following its slower parachute descent, new crew capsule dubbed “RSS First Step” made a successful landing. Blue Origin hopes to operate crewed flights “in a few months”.

New Shepard suborbital test flight mission ends in success in January 2021. Courtesy: Blue Origin

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

Blue Origin launches six more “astronauts” including daughter of first US suborbital spaceman Alan B. Shepard

After a previous launch attempt on 9 December was called off due to high winds, Blue Origin managed to launch Read more

As “Captain Kirk” boldly goes sub-orbitally into space UK’s Prince William lashes out at space tourism & gets a “photon torpedo” fired back

William Shatner, the Canadian-born actor who played Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek TV and film series, finally Read more

Blue Origin completes New Shepard sub-orbital mission carrying multiple science payloads

Blue Origin conducted its New Shepard-17 (NS-17) suborbital mission carrying 18 experiments for commercial and institutional customers inside the capsule. Read more

New Shepard makes first crewed launch

As planned, Blue Origin’s New Shepard made its first crewed launch on 20 July, the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 11’s Read more

New Shepard seat auctioned for US$28 million

The final bids are in and Blue Origin has raised US$28 million for a seat on the first crewed flight Read more

Blue Origin to auction seat on first crewed mission

Budding space tourism company Blue Origin has announced that, following a long development programme, it will conduct its first crewed Read more

Blue Origin makes another successful uncrewed launch of its suborbital New Shepard

At 1556 GMT on 14 April, Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital launch vehicle and Mk 3 version of the capsule Read more

Blue Origin New Shepard completes 13th sub-orbital launch, first in 2020

Lifting-off from the Van Horn facility, Texas, at 1335 GMT 13 October a Blue Origin New Shepard booster completed its Read more