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Blue Origin to Launch Next New Shepard Test Flight Today!

Update: On Monday (Jan. 21), Blue Origin announced via Twitter that it plans to launch New Shepard on Wednesday (Jan. 23) at 9:50 a.m. EST (1450 GMT). This story, originally posted for Blue Origin's Jan. 21 launch target, has been updated with the new time. The company pushed the test mission back, citing expected high winds and "one vehicle open issue." 

Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital spaceflight system will fly again on Wednesday (Jan. 23), if all goes according to plan.

Blue Origin, which is led by billionaire Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, had originally aimed to launch the 10th uncrewed New Shepard test flight in mid-December but was thwarted by an issue with the infrastructure at the company's West Texas test site. That problem has now been resolved.

New Shepard will now launch Wednesday at 9:50 a.m. EST (1450 GMT/8:50 a.m. CST), Blue Origin representatives said in a statement.

"The next launch attempt for #NewShepard #NS10 mission will be Jan. 21. We've fixed our ground infrastructure issue, and both the vehicle and weather look good. Stay tuned for launch timing. Live webcast will be on http://blueorigin.com  #GradatimFerociter http://bit.ly/2HhFcmn," company representatives wrote via Twitter on Friday (Jan. 18). 

New Shepard — which takes its name from Alan Shepard, who in 1961 became the first American to reach space — consists of a rocket and a capsule, both of which are reusable. Blue Origin is developing the system to fly paying passengers and scientific payloads on brief journeys to suborbital space.

Monday's mission totes nine different NASA-sponsored payloads, including gear that will study how rocket fuel behaves in microgravity and an experiment that will investigate electromagnetic fields. 

New Shepard will likely carry its first human passengers sometime this year. But Blue Origin has not started selling tickets to ride the six-seat vehicle, or even set a pricing system yet, company representatives said recently

Another company is also in the late stages of testing a crewed suborbital vehicle. Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered VSS Unity spaceliner made its first trip to space last month and could begin operational flights this year as well

Blue Origin is also developing a huge, reusable rocket for orbital missions. That booster, called New Glenn, is scheduled to fly for the first time in 2021.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us @Spacedotcom or Facebook. Originally published on Space.com

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