Blue Origin scrubbed its planned launch of a reusable rocket called New Shepard today — the thirteenth for this category of launch craft, and the seventh launch for this rocket — in a bid to rival SpaceX as the next go-to private space-capable company, according to the official Blue Origin website.
The launch was scheduled for Sept. 24, at 12:40 PM EDT after a short, 100-minute delay due to cloud coverage in the West Texas launch area, and stream live on NASA's YouTube channel (featured below). However, power supply issues caused the company to scrub Thursday's launch.
The broadcast was due to begin 30 minutes before liftoff, and feature a special message from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine regarding the agency's ongoing collaborations with Blue Origin.
We’ve detected a potential issue with the power supply to the experiments. Launch is scrubbed for today. New launch target forthcoming.— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) September 24, 2020
UPDATE Sept. 24, 12:15 PM EDT: Blue Origin aborts Thursday launch due to 'power supply' issues
"We've detected a potential issue with the power supply to the experiments. Launch is scrubbed for today. New launch target forthcoming," read the company's tweet.
Blue Origin scrubbed today's launch after detecting a potential issue with the power supply to the 'experiments,' presumably referring to the NASA landing systems test attached to the outside of the booster rocket. The company will attempt the launch again at a later date.
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. #NewShepard https://t.co/zR7PD5EpuR— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) September 24, 2020
UPDATE Sept. 24, 10:00 AM EDT: NASA, Blue Origin delay New Shepard launch until 12:40 PM EDT
Blue Origin has delayed its launch until 12:40 PM EDT due to cloud cover in the launch area of West Texas. More updates to come soon.
"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," read Blue Origin's tweet.
Blue Origin to launch reusable rocket, New Shepard
New Shepard's payload was to include a dozen commercial cargo items — one of which is a Deorbit, Descent, and Landing Sensor Demonstration moving forward as part of a partnership with NASA. This test of a highly-precise automated landing system would have helped NASA prepare to land on the moon, and also — eventually — the Red Planet.
Most rocket payloads are tucked safely inside the vehicle — not this time. NASA's landing system was mounted on the exterior of the New Shepard's booster stage, instead of the capsule atop the rocket. This would have marked the first time Blue Origin carried a payload in such a fashion, and the company thought this might serve as a test-run for similar missions to carry out high-altitude sensing, in addition to experiments in need of exposure to external environments during liftoff, reports Tech Crunch.
Additional Blue Origin payloads
Other payloads aboard Blue Origin's flight included postcards from the company's nonprofit Club for the Future, which were collected from students of schools throughout the world. Additional payloads aboard New Shepard include experiments from Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab, mu Space Corp, Space Lab Technologies, other NASA projects, and more.
Blue Origin plans to fly the landing technologies aboard again in the future. The last time Blue Origin carried out a New Shepard launch was December 2019, so nearly a year has passed since the company launched a rocket skyward.