Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule following flight NS-22 on Aug. 4, 2022. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule following flight NS-22 on Aug. 4, 2022. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

Kent-based Blue Origin plans first rocket launch after 2022 mishap

Company had to stop New Shepard flights until getting FAA approval; could launch next week

Kent-based Blue Origin plans to launch its first New Shepard payload mission since a mishap in September 2022.

“We’re targeting a launch window that opens on Dec. 18 for our next New Shepard payload mission,” according to a Dec. 12 Blue Origin post on X, formerly Twitter. “NS24 will carry 33 science and research payloads as well as 38,000 postcards to space.”

It will be the first flight of New Shepard in about 15 months after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) closed its investigation just over two months ago into the Sept. 12, 2022 incident.

The FAA required Blue Origin to implement 21 corrective actions to prevent mishap reoccurrence, including redesign of engine and nozzle components to improve structural performance during operation as well as organizational changes.

The final report cites the proximate cause of the mishap after a launch in West Texas as the structural failure of an engine nozzle caused by higher than expected engine operating temperatures, according to a Sept. 27 FAA news release. No people were on the test flight of NS23.

“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,” according to the FAA. “The capsule landed safety and the propulsion module was destroyed upon impact with the ground. All debris landed within the designated hazard area. Public safety was maintained at all times with no injuries or public property damage.”

Blue Origin had to implement all corrective actions that impact public safety and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety and other applicable regulatory requirements prior to its next New Shepard launch.

“We’ve received the FAA’s letter and plan to fly soon,” Blue Origin posted Sept. 27 on X.

The company, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, opened in Kent in 2000 and expanded its headquarters in 2020 to a 236,000-square-foot blue-colored facility along 76th Avenue South between South 212th and South 228th streets.

Blue Origin launched its first rides into space in 2021 and eventually plans to have people living and working in space.


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