Blue Origin, the space corporation founded by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has been sending scientific and human payloads into space at a rapid rate. The New Shepard rocket system’s 23rd flight, NS-23, on Monday didn’t go as expected. Soon after launch, the rocket caught fire, forcing the capsule to undertake an emergency separation.
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The capsule was seen moving away from the rocket and then parachuting back to the earth close to Blue Origin’s launch facility in Texas during the live launch stream. The host of the livestream described the unanticipated oddity and the capsule’s safe return.
Blue Origin tweeted, “We’re responding to an issue this morning at our Launch Site One location in West Texas. This was a payload mission with no astronauts on board. The capsule escape system functioned as designed.”
During the video, the commentator states, “It appears we have experienced an anomaly with today’s flight. This was unplanned and we don’t have any details yet. But our crew capsule was able to escape successfully, we’ll follow its progress through landing. As you can see, the drogues have deployed, and the mains are going to be pulled out next.”
The technique results in the capsule staying intact and deploying chutes before starting its descent back to Earth. If there were people on board, they “would have felt a serious jolt” but “would have been safe,” according to Eric Berger, senior space editor at Ars Technica.
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Blue Origin later identified the problem as a rocket booster failure.
36 payloads total, including experiments involving ultrasonic sound waves, hydrogen fuel cells, and even art, were to be deployed on the NS-23 mission. 18 of the payloads were financed by NASA. The landing of the capsule appeared to be normal, which is encouraging for the equipment on board.
31 people have been housed by Blue Origin over the course of numerous missions, including famous people like TV show Michael Strahan and Star Trek actor William Shatner. In the first week of August, it had its most recent crewed flight.
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There might not be any immediate explanations for why the booster ran into trouble because it can take some time to identify the root of a rocket problem. The anomaly appeared dramatic and deadly, but the mission’s successful completion of the capsule escape mechanism was a bright spot.