The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has concluded its investigation into the failed cargo mission of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin that occurred in September 2022. As a result of the investigation, the FAA has mandated that Blue Origin must undertake 21 corrective actions to address the issues that led to the mission’s failure.
The corrective actions required by the FAA include the redesign of engine and nozzle components to enhance their structural performance during operation, as well as organizational changes within Blue Origin. The FAA did not provide specific details about these corrective measures in its statement.
Blue Origin is now tasked with implementing all of these corrective actions that impact public safety before it can receive an updated launch license and be permitted to launch its New Shepard rocket again. It’s worth noting that no individuals were onboard the NS-23 mission, which experienced the failure, as it was carrying science and research payloads.
Blue Origin previously identified the cause of the failure as an overheated part in the rocket engine’s nozzle, leading to operational temperatures exceeding expected values for the nozzle material. The company found clear evidence of thermal damage and hot streaks in the recovered fragments of the engine’s nozzle.
The New Shepard rocket is known for its suborbital flights, offering brief moments of weightlessness as it ascends past 100 kilometers in altitude before returning to Earth. Blue Origin has conducted numerous successful missions with New Shepard, primarily for research purposes. They plan to return the rocket to flight “soon” to carry the same research payloads that were intended for the NS-23 mission, this time without a crew on board. To date, Blue Origin has flown 31 people to the edge of space with New Shepard.
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