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Blue Origin, the space company that entrepreneur Jeff Bezos founded, has pinpointed an issue with an engine nozzle as the source of its rocket crash in September. The company said in a post on its website on Friday that the nozzle experienced a “thermo-structural failure,” causing the rocket to crash back to Earth shortly after taking off. No one was on board the flight, but the capsule escape system that was carrying experiments — and would have carried any passengers — properly ejected and safely parachuted to the ground.
Blue Origin wrote that all systems that were meant to protect public safety worked properly, and no injuries occurred. The company plans to retry its flight again with the payloads from the September NS-23 mission, according to the post.
The team was able to recover all “critical flight hardware” within days of the crash. They observed onboard video and the recovered hardware to determine that an engine nozzle had a structural fatigue failure during the flight.
The fatigue was caused by spikes in the expected levels of operational temperature. The rocket was traveling at 700 miles per hour and at about 28,000 feet in the air when it crashed.
The company is redesigning the combustion chamber and “operational parameters” to lower the temperature levels, including changes in design and structure of the nozzle’s improved performance.
The rocket was launched as part of the New Shepard program, honoring astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
Blue Origin blames New Shepard mishap on engine nozzle failurehttps://t.co/z2UUMfaD5i pic.twitter.com/EPaBY3hc9X
— SpaceNews (@SpaceNews_Inc) March 24, 2023
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