The launch window for New Shepard 15th test flight will open on the April 14th, 9AM Eastern time. The test that is codenamed NS-15 will serve as a verification step for the vehicle and its operations before being allowed to fly astronauts to suborbital space.
At the same time, Blue Origin will conduct astronaut operational exercises and the spacecraft is not going to have any human onboard when it takes off, but some company personnel will stand in as astronauts and enter the capsule before and after the flight.
Before it launches, the astronaut stand-ins will go up the launch tower, get into their seats and of course fasten their harnesses and run a communication test with the capsule communicator in the command room.
They will actually close the capsule hatch while they are still inside the vehicle and prepare it for launch but will surely exit before it finally takes off. Then after the vehicle makes its way back to the ground, the astronaut will return to the capsule again to rehearse hatch opening and then finally exit it at the landing site.
According to reports, Blue Origin has been building the New Shepard booster and capsule system for suborbital space tourism since mid-2000’s. The reusable vehicle’s 14th test flight that happened in January was the first time Blue Origin tested its redesigned crew capsule which is a six seater that is meant to give the best “astronaut experience” possible and booster.
Then there were reports that the company was intending to conduct the first crewed flight in early April, but of course that isn’t looking possible as it stands, but you can still watch NS-15 and the live footage of its astronaut rehearsal procedures at Blue Origin’s official site.