Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket Fails Mid Air; Here’s What Happened


Blue Origin’s latest NS-23 flight has witnessed the most feared thing during rocket launches. The private space company was forced to abort the uncrewed mission after an engine of the spacecraft was hit by “booster failure.” The issue was recognized only a minute after the flight took off from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket Fails Mid Air; Here’s What Happened

The company took to Twitter to share a video showing the entire incident unfolding. During the livestream, a commentator was heard saying, “It appears we have experienced an anomaly with today’s flight.” He added, “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.”

What Went Wrong For New Shepard?

New Shepard booster is a rocket that resembles the one used by Blue Origin to ferry three crews on suborbital flights. The rocket was hit by the issue when it hit the maximum dynamic pressure called “max q.”

Thanks to an inbuilt abort system, the crew capsule was jettisoned away from the booster at about 8.8km altitude and parachutes were deployed, helping it land safely. The booster, however, couldn’t survive the mid-air crash.

New Shepard might not be able to escape Earth’s gravity until the company looks closely into the incident. Besides, Blue Origin will also require the Federal Aviation Administration to sign off on the company’s investigation findings.

Blue Origin’s Ambitious Space Ventures

According to Blue Origin, the two additional experiments aboard the exterior of the booster to keep a tab on the effects of ambient exposure to the space environment were turned to ash.

This was the New Shepard program’s fourth flight of 2022 and the first dedicated payload-only flight since August 2021. In six crewed “tourist” flights that last for 10 to 15 minutes, Blue Origin has ferried 31 people to space on New Shepard.


The company has more ambitious plans apart from taking wealthy tourists into space, including its New Glenn project for orbital flights. The company is also developing a moon lander to carry astronauts in partnership with NASA.

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