FAA closes investigation into Blue Origin rocket failure, requires 21 'corrective actions'

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The moment of the anomaly during the New Shepard cargo mission NS-23, in which the booster’s engine failed.

Blue Origin

The Federal Aviation Administration closed its investigation into last year’s failed flight of a cargo mission by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, the regulator announced Wednesday.

Blue Origin is required by the FAA to “implement 21 corrective actions,” the regulator said in a statement. The FAA noted that Blue Origin will not be clear to launch New Shepard until after Blue Origin implements “all corrective actions that impact public safety” and receives an updated launch license.

“We’ve received the FAA’s letter and plan to fly soon,” a Blue Origin spokesperson said in a statement.

The 21 required actions include the “redesign of engine and nozzle components to improve structural performance during operation as well as organizational changes.” The FAA did not comment further on specifics of the corrections.

In September 2022, the company’s New Shepard rocket was flying a cargo mission when it suffered a failure. Blue Origin had said earlier this year that the problem was caused by an overheated component in the nozzle of the rocket engine. No people were onboard, as the NS-23 mission was carrying science and research payloads.

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Blue Origin said its investigation found that NS-23 flight’s engine failure was due to “operational temperatures that exceeded the expected and analyzed values of the nozzle material.” The company found “clear evidence” of thermal damage to the BE-3PM’s engine nozzle due to increased operating temperatures. The New Shepard rocket launched from Blue Origin’s West Texas private facility, carrying people and cargo above 100 km, or 340,000 feet. It lasted for two minutes in weightlessness. The capsule flies autonomously with no pilot and floats to the ground with the help of parachutes in the Texas desert. Blue Origin said in March that they expect to fly New Shepard “soon.” Blue Origin has said since March that it expects to return New Shepard to flight “soon.”