Blue Origin Rocket: Congressional Leaders Probe Failure

The failure of a Blue Origin rocket during an uncrewed launch this month has members of Congress urging for more 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 during while carrying an uncrewed capsule on the NS-23 science flight from the company’s West Texas launch site.

An abort system separated the capsule from the doomed booster as designed, allowing it to parachute back to Earth.

Blue Origin has not released any details of the accident’s cause 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 more transparency from the FAA since Blue Origin is also using its New Shepard rockets to launch passengers on suborbital trips.

In their letter, Beyer and Babin said they and other subcommittee members take their oversight role on commercial spaceflight seriously.

“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 also called for a briefing to the subcommittee within 10 days of the letter, which would be Sept. 25.

The failed NS-23 New Shepard launch was Blue Origin’s 23rd mission and the second in-flight anomaly since flight began in 2015.

The first anomaly occurred in 2015, when the New Shepard booster crashed instead of landing, but its uncrewed capsule successfully reached suborbital space and returned safely.

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