Blue Origin's next six spaceflyers will have to wait a couple of extra days to get to the final frontier.
Blue Origin has delayed the fourth crewed mission of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle from Tuesday (March 29) to Thursday (March 31), citing predicted high winds at the company's West Texas launch site over the next couple of days.
"#NewShepard Mission Operations has successfully completed Flight Readiness Review and weather is the only remaining factor to get to launch," Blue Origin representatives said via Twitter on Monday afternoon (March 28).
Launch is scheduled to take place Thursday at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT; 8:30 a.m. local time in Texas). You can watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of Blue Origin, or directly via the company, starting at 8:20 a.m. EDT (1220 GMT).
New Shepard consists of a rocket and a capsule, both of which are fully reusable. The vehicle has launched 19 times to date, which explains the name of the upcoming mission: NS-20. Most of those previous flights were uncrewed; NS-20 will be just the fourth crewed mission for Blue Origin.
NS-20 will carry five paying customers — businessman Marty Allen, philanthropic couple Sharon Hagle and Marc Hagle, teacher and entrepreneur Jim Kitchen, and George Nield, the president of Commercial Space Technologies, LLC. The sixth passenger is Blue Origin employee Gary Lai, the chief architect of the New Shepard system.
Lai's seat was originally supposed to be filled by "Saturday Night Live" star Pete Davidson, but the actor dropped out after an earlier delay in the target launch date, from March 23 to March 29.
Blue Origin has a history of launching celebrities such as Davidson on its suborbital space missions. For example, the company's first-ever spaceflight, which launched in July 2021, counted among its passengers Blue Origin founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and aviation pioneer Wally Funk. "Star Trek" actor William Shatner flew on the second mission, in October 2021, and NFL Hall of Famer and "Good Morning America" co-host Michael Strahan went up on the third crewed flight, in December 2021.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.