High winds delay Blue Origin launch until weekend

Blue Origin’s mission patch for the NS-19 spaceflight. Credit: Blue Origin

A forecast of high winds at Blue Origin’s launch site in West Texas has prompted the company to delay its first suborbital space shot with a full complement of six passengers from Thursday to Saturday.

Blue Origin’s single-stage New Shepard booster will send four paying passengers and two company guests just above the internationally-recognized boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers).

The 10-minute suborbital mission will be Blue Origin’s third human spaceflight, following two launches, each with four passengers, in July and October.

Blue Origin, the space company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, said Wednesday that forecast wind conditions at the launch site north of Van Horn, Texas, on Thursday and Friday would force a delay in the mission until Saturday.

The launch time Saturday is set for 9:45 a.m. EST (8:45 a.m. CST; 1445 GMT), according to Blue Origin. The company said the New Shepard rocket and crew capsule are in good shape for launch. The vehicle will roll out of its hangar to the launch pad shortly after midnight Saturday, assuming liftoff remains as scheduled.

“The team has completed Flight Readiness Review and confirmed the vehicle has met all mission requirements for launch,” Blue Origin said Wednesday. “Astronauts will complete training today and weather remains as the only gating factor for launch.”

File photo of a previous New Shepard launch. Credit: Blue Origin

The six people slated to ride to space include Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space and namesake for the New Shepard rocket. Like her father on his first space mission, Churchley will fly on a brief up-and-down suborbital trajectory and experience several minutes of weightlessness.

Michael Strahan, a former NFL defensive lineman and an anchor on ABC’s Good Morning America, will also fly to space with Blue Origin this weekend. Strahan and Churchley are flying as guests of Blue Origin.

The mission’s four paying customers include Dylan Taylor, a space industry investor and entrepreneur who is chairman and CEO of Voyager Space. Voyager Space is the majority shareholder in Nanoracks and several other space companies.

Also on-board will be Evan Dick, and engineer and investor, and Lane Bess, a multimillionaire venture capitalist. Bess’s child, Cameron, will also fly on the mission, making them the first parent and child duo to travel to space together.

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