After the end of an inquiry into an accident last year, Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin said Friday it wants to resume rocket flights “soon,” but it must wait for US authorities to accept the results.
Following the September 2022 disaster, which occurred immediately after liftoff from Texas, the company’s New Shepard suborbital rockets, which are designed for space tourism among other things, have been halted.
The tragedy was a blow for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ firm, but experts were reassured by the fact that if humans had been aboard, they would have likely survived.
The rocket for the launch was a single booster, with Blue Origin’s NS-23 capsule carrying a research payload on top.
During the flight, an anomaly occurred as the rocket was ascending, causing it to seem to stall due to a technical fault.
The capsule then began its escape phase, outrunning the launcher and plummeting back to Earth, slowed by parachute drag.
Blue Origin stated at the time that the rocket “impacted the ground” rather than landing upright as is customary.
After that, an inquiry was launched under the supervision of the regulating Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The FAA stated on Friday that its investigation is still ongoing and that it is “currently analyzing the company’s submission of their mishap report.”
“FAA permission is necessary to end the inquiry and resume flying operations for the New Shepard System,” the company stated in a statement.
The abnormality was caused by a “thermo-structural collapse of the engine nozzle,” which is the duct via which burning gases are discharged, according to Blue Origin.
As a result, there was a “thrust misalignment,” which activated the capsule escape system.
The failure of the nozzle was caused by higher-than-expected temperatures, according to the inquiry, indicating that “design adjustments” should prevent the problem in the future.
It further stated that the capsule and its contents “landed safely,” owing to an escape device that “performed as intended.”
Blue Origin stated that it “expects to resume flight shortly” with the same NS-23 payloads.
Since July 2021, when Bezos personally took part in the first voyage, Blue Origin has carried 32 individuals — some as paying customers, some as guests.