HomeTechnologyRegulators Conclude New Shepard Anomaly Probe for Blue Origin, Investigation Closed

Regulators Conclude New Shepard Anomaly Probe for Blue Origin, Investigation Closed

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has concluded its investigation into an incident that occurred during a launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle in September 2022. The FAA has mandated that Blue Origin must implement 21 corrective actions before it can conduct another flight with New Shepard. The mishap occurred when the engine nozzle experienced a structural failure due to higher-than-expected engine operating temperatures. Among the corrective actions, Blue Origin will need to redesign engine and nozzle components, as well as make organizational changes. The closure of the investigation does not mean immediate clearance for Blue Origin, as it must still implement all corrective actions and obtain a launch license modification from the FAA.

During the September 2022 launch, New Shepard had to abort about a minute after liftoff, and the capsule made an emergency parachute landing while the propulsion module was destroyed upon impact with the ground. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. The mishap investigation process involves the companies themselves conducting the investigation under FAA oversight. The FAA is responsible for issuing commercial space licenses and ensuring public safety during commercial launch activities. Blue Origin previously released a report on the incident in March 2023, stating that it expected to fly “soon.” However, as six months have passed since then, it remains uncertain when New Shepard will be ready for its next flight.

Blue Origin has acknowledged the FAA’s directive and stated that it plans to fly New Shepard soon without providing a specific timeline. To meet FAA requirements, the company will need to address the identified issues through redesign and organizational changes. Although the investigation has concluded, Blue Origin must wait for the FAA’s approval, including obtaining a launch license modification. The closure of the investigation signifies progress for Blue Origin as it takes the necessary steps towards resuming its space flights. However, until all corrective actions are implemented and the FAA grants clearance, the exact timeline for the next flight of New Shepard remains uncertain.

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