Blue Origin rocket crashes after launch, no injuries

WASHINGTON | The Blue Origin rocket launcher crashed shortly after launch Monday in west Texas, Jeff Bezos’ company said, adding that the capsule could separate from the rest of the rocket.

It’s a blow to the company and to the highly competitive space tourism industry, although observers note that potential passengers likely would have survived the accident, the first of its kind for Blue Origin.

A video released by the company shows the capsule activating its emergency engines and ejecting from the main launcher about a minute after launch. We then see his hard landing, despite the use of parachutes.

The video doesn’t show what became of the launcher, the company writes that he “fell to the ground” while having to gently stand upright again if successful.

“Launcher malfunction during unmanned flight today,” the company initially announced, adding that the capsule ejection system worked as expected.

“There were no injuries,” said Blue Origin. The unmanned capsule carried only research equipment for this mission, titled “New Shepard 23”.

The American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it has blocked any further launch of this missile while the investigation is ongoing.

“The capsule landed safely and the launch vehicle landed in the danger zone,” the agency wrote.

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It was the 23rd mission for the company, the first to end in failure.

But billionaire Jared Isaacman, head of space missions organized with competitor SpaceX, points out that “the launch safety system worked well.”

“With so many launches, (rockets), engines and launch vehicles under development in this sector, such an event should come as no surprise,” he said.

The space race, long reserved for the States, has in recent years opened up to several private companies competing in the United States, in addition to Blue Origin: SpaceX, led by Elon Musk and collaborating with NASA, and Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin’s main competitor in the suborbital flight sector, has been discontinued since its founder Richard Branson’s flight in July 2021.

Blue Origin has sent 32 people into space since July 2021, when its boss Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, took part in the first flight. Space tourists paying a ticket for an unknown price benefit from ten minutes of zero gravity before landing in the middle of the desert.

Among them, the actor who plays the legendary Captain Kirk of the Star Trek series, William Shatner, and in early August 2022, the first Egyptian and the first Portuguese ever sent to space.

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