The destruction of this launch vehicle was a blow to Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ company, and to the fiercely competitive space tourism sector. The capsule carried on top of the ship was, fortunately, empty. Because it was able to separate from the rest of the rocket prior to the crash, various observers estimate that possible passengers would likely have survived the crash, the first of its kind for Blue Origin.
“Fell on the ground”
In a video released by the company, about a minute after takeoff, the capsule can be seen activating its emergency thrusters and ejecting from the main booster. We then see him making a hard landing despite the opening of his parachutes. The video does not show what happened to the launcher, the company writes that he “fell to the ground”, while if successful, he should return to get up, carefully.
Launch vehicle failure in today’s unmanned flight. The evacuation system is made in accordance with the project. pic.twitter.com/xFDsUMONTh
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) September 12, 2022
“The launcher failed during a drone flight today,” the company said for the first time, adding that the capsule’s ejection system worked as expected. “There were no injuries,” Blue Origin said. The unmanned capsule carried only research equipment for this mission called “New Shepard 23”. The US civil aviation regulator, the FAA, has announced that it has blocked the missile from taking off further while the investigation continues. “The capsule landed safely and the launcher landed in the danger zone,” the agency wrote.
“Such an event should not come as a surprise”
It was the company’s 23rd mission, the first of which ended in failure. But billionaire Jared Isaacman, who leads space missions organized with rival SpaceX, notes that “the takeoff safety system worked well.” “With so many launches (missiles), engines and launchers being developed in the sector, such an event should come as no surprise,” he said.
The space race, long reserved for the States, has opened up in recent years to several private companies competing in the United States, in addition to Blue Origin: SpaceX, led by Elon Musk and working with NASA, and Virgin Galactic, a major competitor in the suborbital flight sector, but was closed following the flight of its founder Richard Branson in July 2021.
Blue Origin has sent 32 people into space since July 2021, when its boss Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, took part in the first flight. Space tourists who pay for a ticket at an unknown price get ten minutes in zero gravity before landing in the middle of the desert. Among them is the actor who plays the iconic Captain Kirk from Star Trek, William Shatner, and in early August 2022, the first Egyptian and the first Portuguese ever sent into space.