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Blue Origin, the space venture of Jeff Bezos, is set to attempt the third launch and landing this year of its New Shepard rocket on Wednesday, as the company takes another step toward flying to the edge of space with people.
Lifting off from Blue Origin's facility in West Texas, this mission will not fly crew but will feature a number of commercial payloads, such as microgravity experiments and research. This is the company's 12th New Shepard mission, as well as the sixth for this specific booster, breaking the company's previous record of five flights with one booster.
The company say the booster has had "minimal refurbishment between flights." New Shepard's booster last flew on a mission on May 2, which had 38 payloads on board.
This mission's commercial payloads include two winning projects from the musical group OK Go's "Art in Space" contest, a Columbia University study of microgravity's impact on on cell biology – advised by professor Mike Massimino, a NASA astronaut who flew on the Space Shuttles – and OSCAR, a recycling technology experiment from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith told CNBC in September that he expects the company will test fly New Shepard at least two more times before it puts the first people on board.
New Shepard would launch six passengers on a ride past the edge of space, where they would float in zero gravity for 10 minutes before returning to Earth. The rocket's capsule features massive windows, which will give expansive views of the Earth once in space.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the day on which Blue Origin attempted the third launch and landing this year of its New Shepard rocket. That launch occurred on Wednesday.