Blue Origin’s NS-12 takes load of postcards into space

Space Science
NS-12 rocket launch

The NS-12 rocket launches from Blue Origin’s West Texas facility on Dec. 11. (Blue Origin / YouTube)

MYSTERY WIRE — Blue Origin completed its 12th launch in the New Shepard program on Wednesday morning, sending the reusable space capsule up for a science mission.

The NS-12 mission lifted off from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch facility, seven months after the company’s last launch. The launch had been delayed by one day because of weather.

A livestream carried on Blue Origin’s website replays below:

The stream also showed the successful return of the rocket to Earth’s surface, touching down safely. The capsule parachuted safely down for reuse. Find mission updates here.

A highlight of NS-12’s payload: artwork and postcards from children. The postcards will be “stamped” and sent back to the children after the trip, part of the company’s “Club for the Future” program to inspire interest in space.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos is behind Blue Origin, competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX for jobs sending cargo into space and ferrying supplies to the International Space Station. Other players in the “private space race” include Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Aerospace and Yuri Milner’s Digital Sky Technologies.

Another big player involves United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, longtime NASA partners in the U.S. space program.

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