SpaceX, Blue Origin to launch within minutes of each other Tuesday

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ready for launch in Texas, backed by a starry sky.

Blue Origin

The billionaires’ battle for commercial space supremacy continues Tuesday with planned launches from both Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and SpaceX, run by Elon Musk. 

Blue Origin only announced the launch window for one of its New Shepard rockets carrying nine NASA-sponsored experiments into space a day ahead of time. Blast-off is set for 8:30 a.m. Central time from the company’s west Texas launch facility.

That comes less than 20 minutes after the launch window for a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket opens at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida starting at 9:11 Eastern time. A brand new Block 5 Falcon 9 booster will loft into orbit GPS III SV01, a new, super powerful global positioning system satellite for the US Air Force. You may also hear the satellite called by its nickname, “Vespucci.”

There won’t be a dramatic landing following the launch, as there are no plans to recover the rocket and it will fall into the Atlantic Ocean. The most recent SpaceX landing attempt at Cape Canaveral suffered a malfunction, and the Falcon 9 booster wound up “landing” in the water just off shore but was still recovered. 

The plan to expend the rocket Tuesday has been in the works for a while and is not related to the recent landing mishap.

All indications are that Blue Origin will bring its New Shepard vehicle back to Earth for a landing after launch to recover all the data collected (and, of course, the rocket itself). The experiments on board will study things like the vibrations experienced during spaceflight, a new way to measure fuel levels in microgravity and how to better work with scientific samples in space. 

Both launches should be easy to watch online. SpaceX typically begins streaming via its YouTube channel about 15 minutes before launch and Blue Origin already has a feed setup below:

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