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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Bezos’s Blue Origin is poised to resume launches after 15-month halt

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, smiles while speaking at the unveiling of the Blue Origin New Shepard system during the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., in April 2017.  (Matthew Staver/Bloomberg)
By Loren Grush Bloomberg

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin LLC is pushing to resume operations with its suborbital New Shepard rocket carrying research payloads as soon as Dec. 18, according to an internal email seen by Bloomberg News.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard, which anchors its space tourism business, has been sidelined since September 2022 after a midflight failure.

The halt gave Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.’s rival venture months of uncontested space tourism operations.

Blue Origin has deployed corrective actions including design changes to address the issue, Phil Joyce, the company’s senior vice president of New Shepard, told employees in an email.

A representative for Blue Origin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The timing of the New Shepard flight could change depending on numerous factors and is contingent on Blue Origin getting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the FAA had approved the plan.

The company’s return mission – with backup dates stretching through Dec. 21 – will not include passengers, but will carry numerous payloads, including technology from Honeybee Robotics, Joyce said.

The restart of tourism operations is a long-delayed boost for the fast-growing space startup.

The development of its BE-4 engine and its flagship orbital booster, New Glenn, has been marked by delays and setbacks.

The firm has ushered in leadership changes including a new Chief Executive Officer, Inc. veteran Dave Limp, who started earlier this month.