A rocket operated by Blue Origin LLC failed during an uncrewed space launch, ending the mission prematurely, the
-backed space company said.
Roughly a minute after launching Monday morning from a Blue Origin facility in West Texas, the booster the company was using for the operation appeared to malfunction, according to video Blue Origin provided. The capsule carrying cargo separated from the booster and could later be seen landing under parachutes.
“Booster failure on today’s uncrewed flight. Escape system performed as designed,” the company said in a post on its verified
account. A Blue Origin spokeswoman declined to comment further.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it would oversee an investigation into the mishap. The agency, which regulates commercial space launches and re-entries, said it would determine whether anything related to the problem affected public safety. Blue Origin won’t be able to operate New Shepard, the rocket system in Monday’s launch, while that work takes place, according to the FAA.
No injuries or damage to public property related to the booster failure have been reported, the FAA said.
Earlier, Blue Origin said there were three dozen payloads on the capsule, such as an experiment designed to have artificial intelligence capture suborbital data from sensors and analyze the results in real time.
The New Shepard consists of a capsule that can carry private astronauts or cargo that is stacked on top of a booster. The suborbital flights last around 11 minutes, with the capsule reaching an altitude of around 62 miles above Earth before it returns to the ground under parachutes.
The booster used on the New Shepard vehicle is designed to land on a pad so it can be reused. Blue Origin said in another tweet Monday that the booster that failed “impacted the ground.”
In July 2021, Mr. Bezos and three others flew on the company’s first New Shepard flight carrying humans. Since then, Blue Origin has also taken up crews that included actor William Shatner and the television journalist and former professional football player Michael Strahan.
Blue Origin completed its most recent New Shepard flight with private astronauts on board in August.
The company, which Mr. Bezos founded more than two decades ago, is also developing a larger rocket called New Glenn, as well as rocket engines and, with other companies, a private space station.
Write to Micah Maidenberg at [email protected]
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Appeared in the September 13, 2022, print edition as ‘Blue Origin Rocket Fails in Launch.’