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New Glenn Rocket Girds for September Maiden Flight to Mars With NASA Smallsats

Inaugural mission

New Glenn Rocket Girds for September Maiden Flight to Mars With NASA Smallsats

Blue Origin is scheduled to launch its New Glenn rocket to Mars with two NASA small satellites as payload on Sept. 29, according to Nick Benardini, the agency’s planetary protection officer. 

Benardini disclosed the inaugural flight’s date in his presentation of NASA’s Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers mission to the planetary protection committee of the Committee on Space Research in London on Wednesday. 

While Blue Origin has no formal announcement yet on the rocket’s launch date,  the company rolled out and upended New Glenn on its launch pad for the first time in February, Space News reported Thursday.

The rollout featured all the launch pad hardware that the New Glenn rocket needs for its inaugural flight, Blue Origin said in a statement on the demonstration. The tests on the pad’s infrastructure included loading propellant fuels onto the rocket.

The ESCAPADE mission that New Glenn supports will send two small satellites into orbit around Mars for a study on the dynamics between the Martian magnetosphere and the solar wind. 

Blue Origin is providing support to the mission following the $20 million task order it received from NASA in February 2023 under the $300 million Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare contract vehicle. 

According to Blue Origin, several New Glenn rockets are in production to support various customer missions and company programs. Besides ESCAPADE, the rocket’s potential deployments include lunar missions under NASA’s Artemis program.

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Category: Space

Tags: Blue Origin ESCAPADE MARS NASA New Glenn Nick Benardini smallsat mission space Space News