The failure of a Blue Origin rocket throughout an uncrewed launch this month has members of Congress urging for extra transparency of the FAA’s investigation into the accident.
One of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rockets was destroyed in a failed launch on Sept. 12 throughout whereas carrying an uncrewed capsule on the NS-23 science flight from the corporate’s West Texas launch website. An abort system separated the capsule from the doomed booster as designed, permitting it to parachute again to Earth. Blue Origin has not launched any particulars of the accident’s trigger nor has the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is investigating the failure.
On Sept. 15, Congressional leaders of the House Science Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics issued a letter (opens in new tab) calling for extra transparency from the FAA since Blue Origin can be utilizing its New Shepard rockets to launch passengers on suborbital journeys.
“We are relieved that no humans were onboard for the New Shepard 23 (NS-23) mission and that the abort system functioned as designed. However, just over a month ago, a New Shepard vehicle carried out Blue Origin’s sixth human commercial suborbital spaceflight in just over a year,” the letter, written by subcommittee chairman Don Beyer (D-VA) and rating member Brian Babin (R-TX), states (opens in new tab). ” On a different day with a different mission, this vehicle’s anomaly could have put human lives in danger.”
During the Sept. 12 launch, Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard lifted off at 10:27 a.m. EDT (1427 GMT) to hold 36 scientific payloads, together with 18 funded by NASA, to suborbital space and again. But one thing went improper 1 minute and 5 seconds into the flight because the rocket was nearing 30,000 ft (9,000 meters). An anomaly on the New Shepard rocket triggered its abort system, ejecting its payload capsule away from the booster earlier than it was destroyed.
“During today’s flight, the capsule escape system successfully separated the capsule from the booster. The booster impacted the ground. There are no reported injuries; all personnel have been accounted for,” Blue Origin wrote in a Twitter update (opens in new tab) after the failure. Since then, few if any particulars have been launched.
In their letter, Beyer and Babin stated they and different subcommittee members take their oversight position on industrial spaceflight severely.
“To that end, we request that the Associate Administrator of the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation keep the Members of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics apprised of the plans and timetable for the NS-23 anomaly investigation, the root cause of the failure once determined, and plans to ensure that actions to address the root cause or causes are completed,” they wrote. They additionally known as for a briefing to the subcommittee inside 10 days of the letter, which might be Sept. 25.
The failed NS-23 New Shepard launch was Blue Origin’s twenty third mission and the second in-flight anomaly since flight started in 2015. The first anomaly occurred in 2015, when the New Shepard booster crashed as an alternative of touchdown, however its uncrewed capsule efficiently reached suborbital space and returned safely.
Blue Origin has not skilled any anomalies on its crewed flights. The firm has launched six passenger flights since 2021, most recently on Aug. 4.