Blue Origin NS-3

Blue Origin NS-3Commercial spaceflight operator Blue Origin, owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, launches its third New Shepard flight. The uncrewed (but human-rated) capsule and its single-stage suborbital booster come in for soft landings near Blue Origin’s Texas launch facility, marking the first reflight of an already-flown booster. This is the second flight for the second New Shepard reusable capsule, as well as the second flight for the second New Shepard reusable booster; both will be flown again.

Ed Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, dies

Astronaut Ed MitchellOn the eve of the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 14 moon landing, astronaut Edgar “Ed” Mitchell dies at the age of 85. The sixth human being to set foot on the moon, Mitchell accompanied Alan Shepard to the lunar surface aboard the Apollo 14 lander. Following his visit to the moon, Mitchell had become interested in researching human consciousness and extra-sensory perception, but later surrounded himself with controversy by claiming that he was certain that UFOs had visited Earth.

ASTRO-H / Hitomi

HitomiJAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, launches the ASTRO-H X-ray observatory satellite, nicknamed Hitomi, from Tanegashima Space Center. Carrying equipment provided by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, Hitomi is intended to remain operational for three years, conducting X-ray astronomy from low Earth orbit. Though the launch proceeds without apparent problems, major technical issues will prevent Hitomi from fulfilling its mission objectives.