Blue Origin Finally Ready to Launch New Shepard Rocket After Last Year’s Fiery Anomaly

Blue Origin Finally Ready to Launch New Shepard Rocket After Last Year’s Fiery Anomaly

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ private space venture, is ready to fly its New Shepard rocket again after over a year of being grounded. The company this week announced the rocket’s first cargo mission since its booster went up in flames in a liftoff malfunction back in September 2022.

On Tuesday, Blue Origin revealed that it’s targeting a launch window that opens on Monday, December 18, for New Shepard’s liftoff. The NS-24 mission will carry 33 science and research payloads as part of the, the company posted on X.

In September, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it had closed its investigation into New Shepard’s failed 2022 launch, handing Blue Origin a list of 21 corrective actions to implement before the rocket can resume launches.

The FAA had grounded New Shepard after an uncrewed flight of the rocket on September 12, 2022 ended in flames around a minute after liftoff. The rocket’s booster exploded mid-flight, and its capsule abandoned ship as the rocket was travelling in excess of 1,130 kilometres per hour and while it was 8,840 metres above the ground.

Earlier this year, Blue Origin identified a “thermo-structural failure of the engine nozzle” as the reason behind the rocket failure. The nozzle on the booster’s engine overheated as a result of increased temperatures that caused “thermal damage and hot streaks,” according to Blue Origin.

At the time, New Shepard was carrying 36 payloads, more than half of which belonged to NASA. The malfunction was a first for Blue Origin’s launch vehicle, which is primarily used to shuttle passengers to suborbital heights as part of the company’s space tourism services. Since its debut in July 2021, New Shepard has performed six crewed flights.

Blue Origin’s long-delayed New Glenn rocket, which is yet to make its debut, may be slated for launch in 2024.

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