Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, has postponed the much-anticipated return to flight of its New Shepard rocket due to a ground system issue opn Monday.
The company will now attempt to launch New Shepard on Tuesday at 10:07 pm IST.
The mission, initially scheduled for 9:00 pm IST on Monday, was set to mark New Shepard’s first launch since a mission failure last year resulted in a 15-month grounding.
The company announced the delay on social network X, previously known as Twitter, stating that the team is troubleshooting the problem.
This mission, named NS24, would be the 24th flight for New Shepard and is intended to carry 33 research experiments to the edge of space without any human passengers onboard.
A ground system issue typically relates to complications with the launch pad infrastructure rather than the rocket itself. The previous mission’s failure was attributed to a structural failure in the engine nozzle caused by excessive heat from the engine’s combustion chamber.
Following this incident, the US Federal Aviation Administration mandated a redesign of New Shepard’s engine and the implementation of 20 additional corrective actions before the rocket could return to service.
The delay has significant implications for Blue Origin’s space tourism venture, which offers brief suborbital trips to wealthy clients, providing them with a few minutes of microgravity experience before returning to Earth.
The hiatus has stalled the company’s plans to regularly send tourists to space, a vision that saw Bezos himself participating in New Shepard’s inaugural crewed flight in 2021 to demonstrate his trust in the rocket’s safety.
Amidst the challenges faced by New Shepard, Blue Origin is also under pressure to successfully launch New Glenn, its larger rocket designed to compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and the upcoming Starship in the satellite launch market.
Bezos has recently made significant changes to Blue Origin’s leadership and restructured the company to better position it in the competitive space industry landscape.