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Blue Origin’s NS-21 mission rescheduled for June 4

NS-21: A white cylindrical object stands upright in the distance of this brown-toned desert scene.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable launch vehicle on the pad at Launch Site One in West Texas, ready for mission NS-21. Image via Blue Origin.

How to watch the launch on June 4

Blue Origin aims to fly six people on its fifth crewed spaceflight this weekend. The mission, known as NS-21, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 4, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. EDT (13 UTC) from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas. Blue Origin will livestream the event on their website, where viewers can follow the countdown and launch, starting one hour before liftoff.

Blue Origin originally scheduled the NS-21 mission for May 20. But during the final vehicle check-outs, engineers called for a halt when the New Shepard launch vehicle was not performing as expected. They have not disclosed the exact issue.

Katya Echazarreta for NS-21

When NS-21 launches, it will carry a crew of six people, including Katya Echazarreta. She will be the first Mexican-born woman and youngest American woman to fly to space. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Katya has worked as an electrical engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, participating in missions like the Mars Perseverance Rover and Europa Clipper. Now she makes science-focused content for YouTube and CBS TV while simultaneously pursuing a graduate degree at John Hopkins University, says Blue Origin. The nonprofit Space for Humanity – an organization founded in 2017 – sponsored her seat. The organization aims to select citizen astronauts from an annual applicant pool, and Katya is its first winner.

When asked in an Instagram story what she is most looking forward to, Katya referred to the overview effect. Simply described, that’s the sensation of awe felt by astronauts who gaze upon Earth from miles above. She said:

We all know what it looks like and yet only a small amount of people have actually seen it. I feel so lucky I get to be one.

Katya also says that her mission is to provide representation for women and minorities interested in STEM fields. Nicole Stott, a retired NASA astronaut and a Space for Humanity advisor, said:

Five minutes of weightlessness and a beautiful view of the Earth can be transformational, but it’s not enough if we’re trying to create a real impact on Earth. What leads up to and what follows the spaceflight will be what makes the real difference in how Space for Humanity’s participants change the world.

The rest of the NS-21 crew

Joining Katya will be Victor Correa Hespanha, the second Brazilian person to fly to space. He is a civil production engineer from Minas Gerais, a large inland state in southeastern Brazil.

The NS-21 launch will also ferry Evan Dick, an engineer, investor, and manager of Dick Holdings; Hamish Harding, chairman of business jet brokerage company Action Aviation; Jaison Robinson, a former Survivor star who founded JJM Investments and co-founded Dream Variations Ventures; and Victor Vescovo, a co-founder of private investment firm Insight Equity. None of them will fly as pilots, as the New Shepard system is fully autonomous.

Diamond-shaped black and blue image with text and silhouettes of six people and a space capsule.
The patch concept came from astronaut Evan Dick, who says reaching space feels like climbing above the surface of the ocean after a lifetime of living below the surface. The 5 stars around the crew capsule represent Blue Origin’s 5th human flight. And the emblems – diamond, arrow, lightning bolt, water droplet, triangle, and circle – are tokens of the personal lives of each astronaut. Image via collectSPACE.

To space and back

Together, they will fly past the Kármán line, a generally agreed-upon “boundary” at 62 miles (100 km) separating Earth’s atmosphere from space. They’ll spend several minutes there before making their descent back to Earth.

A Blue Origin statement from May 9, 2022, says that each astronaut onboard NS-21 will carry a postcard, created by a K-12 student, to space on behalf of the company’s foundation, Club for the Future. The company will return the postcards to the students with a “Flown to Space” stamp. The statement said:

The Club’s mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM for the benefit of Earth.

Once off the ground, NS-21 will not only mark the fifth human flight for the New Shepard rocket, but its 21st flight overall. Everyday Astronaut reports that Blue Origin will be attempting to recover the first stage.

Bottom line: Blue Origin’s next crewed mission, NS-21, is scheduled to launch on June 4, 2022, after a delay. It will be the company’s fifth human spaceflight, with a crew of six people, including the first Mexican-born woman to go to space.

Read more from EarthSky: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin flight soars to the edge of space

Via Blue Origin

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