Just before mid-September last year Blue Origin (Company Jeff Bezos) had launched the suborbital mission NS-23 with a New Shepard rocket and capsule. It was an unmanned mission for scientific purposes and despite the high reliability of the launcher and the landing protocol (with reuse of the first stage) a problem caused the capsule’s escape system to activate while the missile was being destroyed.
The causes were not immediately disclosed, while the company, along with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), conducted data analysis to understand what had happened. This should ensure that on future missions that could potentially have people on board, everything goes as planned and risks can be minimized. A report was released on March 24th with conclusive information as we aim to resume launches.
Blue Origin and the problem at NS-23
As reported in the official report the problem that led to the loss of the space rocket and the activation of the security systems is related to a thermostructural failure of the engine nozzle. This caused an unexpected change in the latter’s thrust, leading to the planned removal of the capsule.
As stated, the crew capsule (which we recall human presence was not intended for this mission) landed as planned, and all payloads on board were recovered intact and sent back to space (above 100 km altitude but with no entry into orbit). ). Blue Origin He emphasized that there were no injuries or damage to ground systems.
The company also reported that once the capsule was removed, the system would automatically intervene to cut power and turn off the device Engine BE-3PM (derived from the BE-3, which can be used on Blue Origin’s lunar module). This operation prevented the missile from straying too far from the safe zone and therefore crashing or exploding without causing damage.
The Mishap Investigation Team (MIT) determined the direct cause of the crash structural fatigue failure of the nozzle of the motor. The motivation was caused by a Increase in operating temperatures that have exceeded the nominal values. The engineers found that some design changes to the cooling system led to this problem. Corrective actions are now being implemented, including changing the design of key structures to prevent the error from reoccurring.