FAA Halts New Shepard Launches; 21 Fixes Needed

30th Sep 2023
FAA Halts New Shepard Launches; 21 Fixes Needed

The FAA have concluded their investigation into the 2022 failure of the New Shepard launch vehicle and shared their findings via a statement while also requesting that 21 correctional measures are taken before the company launches again.

In the statement, the FAA explained that the incident was caused by: “the structural failure of an engine nozzle caused by higher than expected engine operating temperature.”

Shortly after the New Shepard had launched it fell back to the ground. The capsule that was carrying research experiments managed to escape and was recovered on Earth.

The FAA further explored what had happened: “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 closure of the investigation means that the Federal Aviation Authority can outline the requirements for New Shepard to fly again. In December, new CEO Dave Limp will take the helm, and his work is cut out for him.

Blue Origin had already previously published the results of their own investigation. 

They blamed a faulty nozzle on the booster’s engine for the “mishap,” and explained that the engine overheated, causing thermal damage and hot streaks.

Blue Origin Takes Aim at Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has managed four spaceflights already in the time that New Shepard has been prevented from launching, but Blue Origin will hope to play catchup once the issues have been dealt with. The company provides customers with a few minutes of the feeling of weightlessness in suborbital space, and has flown 31 people since July 2021.

The FAA was clear that flights would remain grounded in their statement: “The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of New Shepard launches.”

Blue Origin wasted no time in responding on X (formerly Twitter):

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