The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has concluded its investigation into a mishap during a launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle in September 2022. The FAA has mandated that Blue Origin must implement 21 corrective actions before being allowed to fly New Shepard again. The incident occurred when the vehicle had to abort about a minute after liftoff, with the capsule conducting an emergency parachute landing and the propulsion module being destroyed. The FAA stated that the anomaly resulted from a structural failure of an engine nozzle due to higher than expected temperatures. The corrective actions include redesigning engine and nozzle components, as well as making organizational changes.
Blue Origin, in response to inquiries about the corrective actions, stated that they have received the FAA’s letter and plan to fly soon. However, the closure of the investigation does not grant immediate permission for Blue Origin to resume flights. The company must first implement all the corrective actions and obtain a launch license modification from the FAA. Mishap investigations are conducted by the companies themselves and overseen by the FAA, which issues commercial space licenses and ensures public safety during commercial launch activities. Blue Origin previously released a report on the mishap in March, stating that they expected to fly again soon. However, it remains uncertain when New Shepard will be ready for its next flight.
In summary, the FAA has closed its investigation into Blue Origin’s New Shepard mishap and has required the company to implement 21 corrective actions before resuming flights. The mishap occurred during a launch in September 2022 when the vehicle had to abort and the capsule performed an emergency parachute landing while the propulsion module was destroyed. The FAA attributed the anomaly to a structural failure of an engine nozzle caused by higher than expected temperatures. Although Blue Origin has received the FAA’s letter and expressed intentions to fly soon, they must fulfill all corrective actions and obtain a launch license modification before being allowed to fly New Shepard again.