Blue Origin has released the results of its investigation into the NS-23 rocket failure that cut short a New Shepard flight in September of last year. The company has attributed the failure to a “thermo-structural failure” in the engine nozzle, which led to misalignment of the thrust and activation of the crew capsule’s escape system.
According to Blue Origin, the nozzle experienced higher than expected operational temperatures due to changes in the cooling system design. This caused fatigue, which led to the misalignment of the thrust and the triggering of the escape system.
The company has stated that it is already taking corrective actions to prevent similar failures from happening in the future. This includes redesigning the combustion chamber and operating conditions, as well as tweaking the nozzle design to improve its structural integrity.
The capsule was not damaged and will fly again, according to Blue Origin. The company hopes to resume flights soon, but has not yet provided a specific date. It plans to restart operations by re-flying the research payload from the aborted mission. However, the Federal Aviation Administration must accept the incident findings before Blue Origin can move forward.
The failure comes at a critical time for Blue Origin, which recently obtained a NASA contract to fly a science mission to Mars using its yet-to-launch New Glenn rocket, and has been pushing for a lunar lander agreement. The company is under significant pressure to address the issues and prove that its rocketry is trustworthy to secure customers, including governments and space tourists.
Overall, Blue Origin’s investigation results provide valuable insight into the incident and demonstrate the company’s commitment to safety and transparency. By taking corrective actions and working to regain trust, the company can continue to pursue its ambitious goals in space exploration.