On Sunday, the private space company Blue Origin will launch its third New Shepard rocket, according to its founder, Jeff Bezos. The launch is scheduled for 9:30 AM EDT / 8:30 AM CDT and will be broadcast live.
This will be the eighth general flight for the New Shepard, and the second flight for this particular vehicle. The first one was launched on April 29, 2015 (three years ago, tomorrow), but crashed. Blue Origin then launched successfully and won its second New Shepard in November of that year, and proceeded to reuse the reinforcement for four additional releases until October 2016 before removing it. The company launched and recovered its third rocket in its only launch of 2017 in December, and that is the vehicle that will be launched tomorrow.
The New Shepherd rocket will eventually take passengers into space, taking them on an 11-minute flight in a capsule that will land with the help of a parachute, while the accelerator lands again with energy. Blue Origin has ambitions beyond simply taking space tourists into orbit: it showed its plans for its New Glenn rocket last year, transporting the cargo into orbit after it was launched sometime in 2020 for the first time.
Blue Origin intends to make its first manned flights for the New Shepard sometime this year, and CEO Bob Smith said last year that his company was planning to send its first passengers into space by 2019.