Blue Origin, which has been without news for a while, was actually affected by the epidemic and only conducted one test flight in mid-October throughout 2020, which is a far cry from the three in 2019. However, with the advent of 2021, Blue Origin has apparently resumed the development process again. First it carried out the first flight of the modified NS4 rocket and the manned cabin in mid-January, and now it will be the second one. The test flight took place.this is The 15th test flight of the New Shepard rocket, The natural mission name is also quite uninspired “NS-15”, but the important thing is that this is the last preview before the scheduled manned flight of the NS-16.
Before the launch, there will be Blue Origin employees who will “temporarily take the place of the astronauts” to climb the launch tower, enter the space capsule, sit on the seat and fasten the seat belt, and test the communication with the control center. The employees outside will also conduct safety inspections and drills for closing the hatch. The only difference is that at the last moment before launch, the temporary astronauts inside will leave the capsule. After the space capsule is launched and then falls back to the ground, the astronauts will temporarily return to the space capsule and let the ground team practice the opening of the hatch and the full set of related safety actions.
Considering that there is only about 3 months between the first flight of NS4 and NS-15, this means that 3 months is enough for Blue Origin to refurbish the rocket and proceed to the next flight. So if the NS-15 goes well, maybe the first manned flight will be possible around mid-July.