Blue Origin flights to 'soon' resume after FAA closes investigation

Oct. 3, 2023
The agency had grounded Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket, which it uses to bring paying customers to the edge of the atmosphere, Jack Daleo writes for Flying.

KENT, Wash., - After a year of inactivity, Jeff Bezos’ space tourism venture could soon be back in orbit. This week, the FAA closed its mishap investigation into New Shepard 23, an uncrewed, suborbital cargo mission that crashed in September 2022. The investigation, which looped in NASA and the National Transportation Safety Board as official observers, grounded Bezos-owned Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, which in the months prior had ferried a total of 31 people to the edge of the atmosphere, Jack Daleo writes for FlyingContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

3 October 2023 - The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of New Shepard launches. Blue Origin must implement all corrective actions that impact public safety and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety and other applicable regulatory requirements prior to the next New Shepard launch.

The final report, the FAA says, cites the proximate cause of the Sept. 12, 2022, mishap as the structural failure of an engine nozzle caused by higher than expected engine operating temperatures. The FAA required Blue Origin, which is based in Kent, Washington, to implement 21 corrective actions to prevent mishap reoccurrence, including redesign of engine and nozzle components to improve structural performance during operation as well as organizational changes.

During the mishap the onboard launch vehicle systems detected the anomaly, triggered an abort and separation of the capsule from the propulsion module as intended and shut down the engine. The capsule landed safety and the propulsion module was destroyed upon impact with the ground. All debris landed within the designated hazard area. Public safety was maintained at all times with no injuries or public property damage.

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Jamie Whitney, Senior Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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