Teacher Background


Leader Overview

Mission Packets


Grade 5-8| 1 (7 hour) Day

In This Mission...


This one-day activity will simulate the design and launch of a real Blue Origin mission, in which a team of professionals must work together to be successful. Students collaborate with their team to tackle problems and work together for the final rocket launch. Teams are responsible for sharing their final products and results.

Mission Setting

Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing, crew-rated suborbital launch vehicle that is being developed as a commercial system for suborbital space tourism. For Mission Bravo Oscar, Blue Origin is switching propulsion systems from liquid to solid propellant. Students must work together to determine which engine size is the best choice while considering altitude, velocity, acceleration, and the type of payload that will be launched.


The mission is complete when the following criteria are met:

  • Appropriate personnel are identified, hired, and work effectively together.
  • A New Shepard rocket is safely built, transported, launched, and recovered after testing 2 – 3 engine types in an appropriate time frame.
  • Team gives a recommendation for best engine size based on the testing they completed.


Teacher Background

What is Blue Origin?

Blue Origin was founded by Jeff Bezos in 2000 with the vision of enabling a future where millions of people are living and working in space for the benefit of Earth and to find new energy and material resources and move industries that stress Earth into space. The logo is the symbol of the perfection of flight and represents freedom, exploration, mobility, and progress. The Blue Origin motto is Gradatim Ferociter or “Step by Step Ferociously”.

Launch, Land, Repeat

Blue Origin is working to develop partially and fully reusable launch vehicles that are safe, low cost and serve the needs of all civil, commercial and defense customers. They build reusable rockets – that decrease cost and waste. In fact, 99% of New Shepard’s dry mass is reused, including the booster, capsule, ring fin, engine, landing gear, and parachutes. The rockets’ fuel is highly efficient and clean liquid oxygen and hydrogen. During flight, the only byproduct of New Shepard’s engine combustion is water vapor with no carbon emissions. The ability to launch, land and repeat is largely based on the ability of the rocket to take off and land vertically.


Blue Origin is dedicated to safety, protection of our Earth and research and development for schools, scientists/researchers and businesses. There is an ability to allow research both inside and outside of the capsule.

What is it Like to Fly?

The flight lasts 11 minutes during which time passengers travel over 3x the speed of sound and pass the Kármán Line at 100 km (62 mi). The passengers experience weightlessness for several minutes and witness life-changing views of Earth before descending gently under parachutes.

Vehicles of Blue Origin

New Shepard: Named after Alan Shepard, the first man in space.


  • Crew Capsule: The crew capsule holds six passengers and none of them are the pilot- it is completely autonomous
  • Ring and Wedge fins: Stabilize the rocket and decrease fuel use
  • Drag brakes: reduce the rocket’s speed during descent
  • Engine: This is used to propel the rocket to space and slow it down for landing
  • Alt fins: Stabilize the rocket during flight and steer it to the launch pad.
  • Landing gear – This is a very unique feature since most rockets do not have a vertical landing. 

New Glenn: 


  • The first anticipated launch is slated for 2023.
  • The first stage of the rocket flies back to Earth and lands nearly 1,000 km downrange on a moving ship
  • The second stage engines ignite and the 7-meter fairing separates. 
  • The mission is complete when the payload is delivered safely to orbit.

Human Landing System: 


  • NASA’s Artemis Program has a bold challenge to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon
  • Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper will work together to develop a Human Landing System for Artemis
  • The Human Landing System is the final mode of transportation that will take astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon and back to orbit.

Blue Moon: 



  • This flexible lander will deliver a wide variety of payloads to the lunar surface.
  • Its capability to provide precise and soft landings will enable a sustained human presence on the Moon.

Who is Alan Shepard?

Alan Shepard was an American astronaut, naval aviator, test pilot, and businessman. Born in New Hampshire in 1923, Shepard was interested in flight at a young age, often working odd jobs in exchange for flying lessons.

Shepard passed the entrance exam for the US Naval Academy, when he was only 16 and but had to wait two years before he could enroll. While he was at the Academy, he learned to sail- a 90-foot schooner and later served aboard the USS Cogswell during World War II. After the war, Shepard began his pilot training. It wasn’t easy and it took him a lot of practice before he earned his naval aviator wings.

Then, in 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite. Americans were worried – was the United States not as technologically advanced as we thought? President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA and the Space Race officially began.

Project Mercury was NASA’s first manned mission, running from 1958 -1963. Its mission was to launch a man into space and return him safely. Seven former navy pilots were dubbed the Mercury 7 and became the first group of astronauts. Alan Shepard was part of this group. All of the astronauts were under 40, had at least a bachelor’s degree and were 5’10” or less (so they could fit in the capsule).

The Russians continued to get further ahead with their launch of the first dog in space (November 1957) and the first human in space (April 1961). Finally, the US was ready, and Alan Shepard was chosen. On May 5, 1961, Shepard became the first American in space. His Mercury spacecraft was named Freedom 7.

Ten years later, after some medical setbacks, Shepard flew again on Apollo 14. This time, he landed on the Moon, becoming the fifth person to walk on the Moon. Shepard was awarded many honors before he died in 1998 and is now honored again with Blue Origin’s New Shepard, a reusable suborbital rocket system designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line – the internationally recognized boundary of space.


Description Quantity Notes
What is Blue Origin? Slide Presentation 1
Blue Origin New Shepard Builders Kit 1 or 2 The mission requires the manufacturing team to build a single New Shepard Rocket. It is helpful to have a backup.
Estes Lifetime Launch System 1 A launch set (pad and controller) is needed to launch.
Estes Engines, B4-4, B6-4, and C6-5 1-2 of each type We recommend having a few extras just in case.
Mini AltiTrak 3 Used by the Data Analyst team to track height. Recommend 1 for each 2 students in that team. Come in a 3-pack.
Tennis balls, clipboards, calculators Used by the Data Analysts.
Computer/smart device with internet Used by the Chemists, Human resources, and Safety Specialists
Recycled materials, glue, tape, pens/pencils Used by the Engineers.
Art supplies Variety Used by Engineers, Human Resources, and Safety Specialists.
Paper, pens/pencils Used by Launch Managers.
Scissors, Hobby knife, Pencil, Ruler, Fine sandpaper, Medium CA glue, yellow glue (Optional: Primer, clear coat, white paint, masking tape) Used by Manufacturing.

Leader Overview

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Student Mission Packet

Mission Teams Packet

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PowerPoint Presentations


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