Blue Origin successfully launched its New Shepard rocket on July 18 from the company’s West Texas launch site with five NASA-supported technologies onboard. The flight helped researchers collect critical data to help them confirm theories, refine previous results and fine-tune experiments for future testing.

Selected for flight test by NASA’s Flight Opportunities, many of the payloads on this New Shepard flight aim to provide value to other payloads on future flights. More details available on other technologies flown will be included on NASA web feature at: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/flightopportunities/blue_origin_new_shephard_07_18_18.html.

A sensor package developed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will help measure critical data such as acceleration, pressure, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels and acoustic levels within a suborbital vehicle in flight. SFEM-2 stands for Suborbital Flight Experiment Monitor-2. It was flown once before on Blue Origin in April 2018.

“We modified the acceleration measurement range, allowing us to capture higher g levels from the flight,” said Johnson’s Kathryn Hurlbert, principal. “This, combined with the data from the first flight, should provide an extensive set of parameters of the test environment.”

Some of the payloads flying on this Blue Origin flight also aim to provide value to other researchers. For example, the company Solstar sent the world’s first commercial tweet from space on the Blue Origin flight in April. This time, the company continued work toward increasing the robustness of WIFI in space with an antenna designed to withstand the rigors of a rocket demonstration.

Through the program, the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) selects promising technologies from industry, academia and government for testing. The Flight Opportunities program has helped to test and mature 136 technologies through 162 suborbital flights. The program is funded by STMD and managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

“NASA needs technologies that enable space exploration,” said Ryan Dibley, NASA FO campaign manager. “The Flight Opportunities program funds the flights on commercial suborbital vehicles to test these technologies in a relevant environment, enabling researchers to validate their technology, as well as fostering the public and private relationships that grow this nation’s economy.”

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