FAA Concludes Blue Origin’s Rocket Mishap Investigation, Calls for Engine Redesign
FAA Wraps up Blue Origin’s Rocket Mishap Probe
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently wrapped up its investigation into the mishap involving Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket in 2022. The unexpected incident during the test flight prompted the probe, which has eventually attributed the malfunction to a flaw in the rocket’s engine design.
Engine Redesign Requested by FAA
Following the investigation, the FAA has advised Blue Origin to initiate a redesign of the engine. This step aims to prevent similar malfunctions in future flights, emphasizing the role of safety in the burgeoning commercial space flight industry. The FAA licenses all commercial space launches in the US and is responsible for ensuring the safety of these launches. This includes reviewing vehicle design, system safety, and operational procedures.
Blue Origin’s Ongoing Mission Amid Setbacks
Despite the setback, Blue Origin, supported by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, continues its pursuit to establish a future where millions can live and work in space. However, the engine redesign is expected to delay subsequent flights until the issue has been fully addressed, and the modified design receives the FAA’s approval.
New Shepard Rocket’s Anomaly
The New Shepard cargo mission NS-23 experienced an anomaly that resulted in the booster’s engine failure. Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space company, released the findings from an investigation into the failed flight from last year, attributing it to an issue with the rocket’s engine nozzle. Despite the incident, Blue Origin confirmed that the capsule’s emergency escape system functioned correctly, although the rocket’s reusable booster was destroyed.
FAA’s Investigation Status
Over the past six months, the company had remained relatively silent about its investigation, conducted under the FAA’s oversight. The FAA disclosed that the regulator’s “mishap” investigation “remains open.” An FAA spokesperson stated that the agency is currently reviewing the mishap report submitted by the company. The FAA’s approval is required to conclude the investigation and for the New Shepard System to resume flights.
Engine Modification and Design Changes
Blue Origin announced that it identified “a thermo-structural failure of the engine nozzle” as the direct cause of the issue. The company is now modifying the engine, including design changes to account for higher-than-expected temperatures during the flight. Blue Origin anticipates returning to flight soon, with a re-flight of the NS-23 payloads.
Blue Origin’s Future Prospects
The New Shepard rocket launches from Blue Origin’s private facility in West Texas, carrying people and payloads above 100 kilometers for a few minutes of weightlessness. The capsule operates autonomously, with no human pilot, and descends with the help of a set of parachutes to land in the Texas desert. The New Shepard rocket booster is reusable, returning to land on a concrete pad near the launch site.
In conclusion, the FAA has concluded its investigation into Blue Origin’s 2022 rocket mishap. The probe led to the need for an engine redesign to enhance safety measures and prevent similar incidents in the future. This development is likely to impact Blue Origin’s launch schedule until the necessary adjustments have been made and approved.
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