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Blue Origin Delays Next New Shepard Launch to Early 2019

Blue Origin's 10th New Shepard flight — scheduled to launch earlier this week before being delayed to no earlier than Friday (Dec. 21) — has now been pushed to early 2019, company representatives said.

The first launch scrub on Tuesday (Dec. 18) was caused by "a ground infrastructure issue" at the company's launch site in West Texas, according to announcements made at the time. But as Blue Origin was working to address that problem, something else appears to have raised red flags.

"Through fixing the ground infrastructure issue, we have determined additional systems need to be addressed. We have changed our target to early 2019 for next launch attempt. Stay tuned for updates," the company wrote in a Twitter update late Wednesday (Dec. 19).

Blue Origin's 10th New Shepard mission as seen on the launch pad before technical difficulties postponed the flight. (Image credit: Blue Origin/Twitter)

Blue Origin is the rocket company created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. New Shepard is the company's reusable suborbital flight system, designed to carry both humans and robotic payloads, and it makes its journey in 11 minutes. The company is also working on a heavy-lift launch vehicle designed to reach Earth orbit, called New Glenn, which is unlikely to fly before 2020.

The delayed launch will join a busy slate of 2019 commercial flights, as both SpaceX and Boeing aim to carry humans to the International Space Station for the first time and Virgin Galactic will build on its successful suborbital flight of Dec. 13.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

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Meghan Bartels

Meghan is a senior writer at Space.com and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.