VAN HORN, Texas – Blue Origin is preparing for its fourth human spaceflight from its West Texas launch site.
The New Shepard rocket was poised to liftoff to the edge of space with six space tourists on Tuesday. However, Blue Origin decided to push the launch to Thursday after evaluating the forecast.
Winds in West Texas have delayed New Shepard launches in the past, and based on the wind forecast for Tuesday, it was the right call to reschedule. Winds in the morning were forecast to be between 15 and 20 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph. Those high winds are also part of what is driving the critical fire weather across the southern High Plains.
Now, the company is targeting Thursday at 7:20 a.m. CT to launch six people in the New Shepard capsule on a 10-minute up and down ride above the boundary of space.
The forecast has improved for the new launch date. Winds should be between 5 and 10 mph Thursday morning when the launch window opens. FOX Weather is predicting a 95% chance of favorable weather for liftoff.
Five of the people inside the capsule are customers who purchased seats from the company founded by Jeff Bezos. One of the passengers is a senior Blue Origin staff member who is considered the "architect of the New Shepard system."
Gary Lai, Senior Director and Chief Architect of New Shepard, joined the New Shepard 20 flight manifest after "Saturday Night Live" comedian Pete Davidson could not launch due to scheduling conflicts.
The NS-20 mission includes husband and wife Sharon and Marc Hagle of Central Florida, Party America CEO and angel investor Marty Allen, University of North Carolina business professor Jim Kitchen and George Nield, the former associate administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation.
Marc Hagle is the CEO of Tricor International, a property development company that owns more than 17.4 million square feet of real estate across the U.S. Sharon Hagle founded SpaceKids Global, a STEAM education nonprofit designed to inspire young girls. The couple were early investors with Blue Origin's competitor Virgin Galactic and even purchased seats to fly on Virgin's SpaceShipTwo but have not flown yet.
This will mark the fourth human spaceflight for the company since the first with its founder Bezos last July.