Space Image

Blue Origin's New Glenn To Launch NASA ESCAPADE NET Late September

NASA's Mars smallest mission ESCAPADE is officially on the launch schedule with launch now scheduled for NET late September 2024.

  • More details coming soon...
Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Fri Apr 26 2024Written by Zac Aubert

NASA's Mars smallest mission ESCAPADE is officially on the launch schedule with launch now scheduled for NET late September 2024.

During a recent presentation at a meeting of a planetary protection committee of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) in London, Nick Benardini, NASA’s planetary protection officer shared a mission update.

"They’re slated to be launching Sept. 29 with Blue Origin," - Nick Benardini, NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer.

The Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission aims to deploy a pair of smallsats into orbit around Mars. Their mission to meticulously measure the interaction between the Red Planet's magnetosphere and the solar wind.

The selection of Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket to ferry ESCAPADE into space marked a significant step forward for both NASA and the commercial space industry. This decision, made in February 2023, was accompanied by a $20 million task order awarded to Blue Origin under NASA’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare contract.

It was anticipated then that ESCAPADE would ride on the inaugural flight of New Glenn, contingent upon the rocket's timely readiness.

During his presentation at the COSPAR meeting, Benardini underscored the meticulous efforts being undertaken to ensure compliance with planetary protection protocols. He emphasized the criticality of preventing any potential contamination of Mars during the spacecraft's assembly and launch preparations at Cape Canaveral.

The specified launch date of September 29 represents the most precise timeline disclosed for the ESCAPADE mission thus far. It solidifies the mission's standing as the prospective debut flight of the New Glenn rocket.

Previous discussions at a NASA advisory committee meeting last November had hinted at a launch timeframe roughly a year away, while other presentations had floated dates ranging from August to November for the mission.

A slide unveiled during a meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group on April 24 provided further confirmation of the targeted launch window. Set between September 18 and 29, the slide reinforced the notion that ESCAPADE would indeed be hitching a ride on the inaugural voyage of New Glenn.

Amidst these developments, Blue Origin has refrained from formally announcing a specific launch date for New Glenn's maiden flight. However, the company has expressed optimism regarding a launch this year after contending with several years of delays.

In February, Blue Origin rolled out a "pathfinder" model of the rocket at Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 36. This vehicle served as a testing ground for various pad infrastructure elements, albeit lacking BE-4 engines in its first stage and some flight hardware components.

Despite the intricacies involved in preparing for such a groundbreaking mission, all eyes are now fixed on the looming September launch window, eagerly awaiting the moment when ESCAPADE embarks on its journey and New Glenn flys for the first time.