Uncrewed Blue Origin rocket crashes in setback for space tourism
Blue Origin tweeted a video clip showing the moment the capsule fired emergency thrusters to separate from its thruster.
WASHINGTON — An uncrewed Blue Origin rocket carrying research payloads crashed shortly after liftoff from Texas on Monday, but the capsule carrying experiments escaped and returned safely to Earth.
The incident marked a setback for Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos’ company, as well as the space tourism industry, although observers were heartened that if people had been on board, they would probably have survived.
Blue Origin tweeted a short video clip showing the moment the capsule fired emergency boosters to separate from its booster rocket early, about a minute after launching from the company’s base in West Texas. .
“Thruster failure during today’s uncrewed flight. The escape system worked as expected,” Blue said on his website, noting that the rocket “hit the ground” instead of landing upright. as she normally does.
The New Shepard suborbital rockets have been grounded pending an investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said, which is standard procedure.
“The capsule landed safely and the booster was impacted within the designated danger zone. There were no reports of injuries or damage to public property,” the FAA added.
It was the 23rd mission for the New Shepard rocket program, named after the first American in space, and the first to end in failure.
The NS-23, which had 36 experiments on board, was originally scheduled to launch in late August, but was delayed due to bad weather.
The anomaly occurred as the rocket climbed at 700 miles per hour (1,126 kilometers per hour) at an altitude of around 28,000 feet (8,500 meters). The rocket appeared to stall as it encountered the technical problem.
The capsule then began its escape sequence and passed the booster, which it engulfed in bright yellow flames.
The incident marks a setback for Blue Origin and the fledgling space tourism industry.
– “The evacuation system worked well” –
But billionaire entrepreneur Jareed Isaacman, who chartered a private space mission with SpaceX last year, tweeted “looks like the launch escape system worked fine.”
“With so many launches, so many vehicles, engines and boosters in development across the industry, it should come as no surprise to see events like this,” added Isaacman.
Blue Origin began flying humans into space on 10-minute round trips last year for an unspecified ticket price.
In total, it carried 32 people, some as paying customers and others as guests. Notable passengers include founder Bezos and Star Trek icon William Shatner.
Passengers experience a few minutes of weightlessness and observe the curve of the Earth before the capsule re-enters the atmosphere and takes off for a soft landing in the desert.
Other companies offering tourist experiences include Virgin Galactic, which has not flown since transporting its founder Richard Branson to the outer reaches of space in July 2021.
While Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin offer short jaunts into the cosmos, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is working with another company called Axiom Space to offer longer missions to the International Space Station.