NASA to test out new tech on Blue Origin’s latest New Shepard launch

The Blue Origin’s 17th New Shepard mission, set to launch into space on 26 August, will test technologies from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The company, a brainchild of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, will launch the mission from its site in West Texas.

The mission will test a variety of technologies developed by NASA. These include the Safe and Precise Landing Integrated Capabilities Evolution (SPLICE) project, designed to help a lander determine its velocity and exact location as its travels towards the surface of planetary bodies. It will also test innovations in propellant gauging and a space-based trash recycling method to convert metabolic waste and refuse into a blend of useful gases.

The New Shepard booster lands after the vehicle's flight on Dec. 11, 2019. Credits: Blue Origin

The New Shepard booster lands after the vehicle’s flight on Dec. 11, 2019.
Credits: Blue Origin

The Blue Origin’s mission comes on the heels of its growing feud with NASA. The company has filed a lawsuit against the agency over the Artemis 3 mission, further delaying the project’s timeline to send astronauts to the moon again in 2024.

NASA had chosen Elon Musk’s company SpaceX in May for a contract for the Human Ladder System (HLS). The HLS would transport astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon for the Artemis 3 mission.

Bezos has repeatedly contested the decision. Along with the company Dynetics, Blue Origin had earlier filed a claim in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) over the HLS contract. In July, the GAO upheld NASA’s decision.

This led to Bezos suing NASA in the Court of Federal Claims, dedicated to exclusively hearing cases against the US government. In response, NASA has agreed to pause work on the project till 1 November to ensure that the lawsuit gets resolved in the time frame.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson has said that the case would result in “further delay” for the mission, which has already been bogged down by insufficient funding.

Blue Origin’s feud against SpaceX and NASA also comes at a troubled time for the company, when many of its talented employees are leaving to work for competitors like Firefly Aerospace and SpaceX.