Close

Blue Origin's next New Shepard flight intends to place the Navigation Doppler Lidar and the Descent Landing Computer capabilities to the test.

The announcement came after Blue Origin announced that the NS-17 mission would launch from Launch Site One in West Texas at 9:35 a.m. Eastern on August 25. 

Science Times reported that this would be the 17th mission. This will be different from the one that launched the company's first astronauts into space on July 20. Blue Origin's ongoing interest in and development of future moon trips follows the company's recent legal battle with the US government. 

Blue Origin's New Shepard Wants to Test NASA Lunar Landing Technology

Geekwire said NASA would bring 18 scientific payloads in the capsule, 11 of which are funded by NASA. The space agency will gather data to test a computer system and sensor for future lunar landers during the booster's powered landing. The spacecraft will also have paintings on the capsule's parachute coverings as part of an Uplift Aerospace art initiative.

The trip will be New Shepard's first since the crewed flight on July 20. Officials from the firm indicated at the time that two additional New Shepard crewed flights, as well as a payload-only mission, were scheduled for this year.

Blue Origin Launch
(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
VAN HORN, TEXAS - JULY 20: Blue Origin’s New Shepard lifts off the launch pad carrying Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk on July 20, 2021, in Van Horn, Texas. Mr. Bezos and the crew are riding in the first human spaceflight for the company.

ALSO READ: Why Does Jeff Bezos' Rocket Look So Much Like A Male Genitalia? Rocket Scientist Explains  

Blue Origin's Next Launch A First After FAA Updated Launch License

Space News said it would also be the first since the Federal Aviation Administration updated its launch license on August 13. The new license, which is good for two years, is largely a renewal of earlier ones given by the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which dates back to 2017.

The new license's "financial responsibility" criteria are a significant shift. Licensees must show that they can pay damages in the case of an accident up to the FAA's maximum probable loss (MPL), which is calculated during the licensing procedure. The MPL amount in the instance of New Shepard is $150 million.

Liability insurance is typically used by start-ups to satisfy this need. A new clause of the Blue Origin license, on the other hand, establishes an alternate option in which an unidentified "parent guarantor" deposits the funds in an account only to cover any losses. According to the license, Blue Origin's agreement with that the main guarantor "must guarantee all essential and appropriate resources for compliance with FAA's financial responsibility standards, specifically in the amount of the MPL."

Other conditions of the license require the company to demonstrate that financing is in place before each launch and get legal advice from a third-party law firm that the said agreement is valid and enforceable before the first launch.

Blue Origin declined to comment on why it chose a different strategy under its new licensing. It would protect Blue Origin from paying add-ons for the liability insurance that would otherwise be required to fulfill the requirement, according to one industry insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The FAA boosted the MPL value of the license from $75 million to $150 million in July, when the agency amended the license to allow Blue Origin to carry passengers on the vehicle.

Because it is necessary to set aside a considerable amount of money to cover losses, most businesses choose not to self-insure. However, Jeff Bezos, one of the world's wealthiest persons with a net worth of almost $200 billion, owns Blue Origin.

RELATED ARTICLE: Blue Origin Makes 'Secret Project' Called 'Jarvis' as SpaceX's Competitor; What Makes This Special?

Check out more news and information on Space in Science Times.