Kent-based Blue Origin’s New Shepard on the launch pad Sept. 12 in West Texas going through nominal checkouts in advance of its flight to space. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

Kent-based Blue Origin’s New Shepard on the launch pad Sept. 12 in West Texas going through nominal checkouts in advance of its flight to space. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

FAA to investigate Kent-based Blue Origin’s uncrewed rocket crash

Flight mishap after launch from West Texas site

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will oversee the investigation of Kent-based Blue Origin’s New Shepard-23 mishap of a test flight Monday, Sept. 12 at its Launch Site One location in West Texas.

“The anomaly that occurred triggered the capsule escape system,” according to a FAA statement. “The capsule landed safely and the booster impacted within the designated hazard area. No injuries or public property damage have been reported. This was a payload only mission; there were no humans aboard.”

Before the New Shepard vehicle can return to flight, the FAA will determine whether any system, process or procedure related to the mishap affected public safety, according to the FAA, which is standard practice for all mishap investigations.

The FAA is responsible for protecting the public during commercial space transporation launch and reentry operations.

“During today’s flight, the capsule escape system successfully separated the capsule from the booster,” Blue Origin tweeted Sept. 12. “The booster impacted the ground. There are no reported injuries; all personnel have been accounted for.”

Earlier on Monday, Blue Origin tweeted:

”Booster failure on today’s uncrewed flight. Escape system performed as designed.”

The company said on Monday more information to come as it is available.

Just over a minute after takeoff, the New Shepard rocket appeared to suffer an engine problem and veer off course, prompting the emergency abort system to kick in, according to an article on Bloomberg.com.

“Once the failure occurred, the capsule on top of the rocket, used to carry payloads, ignited its thrusters and quickly separated from the rocket,” according to the Bloomberg report. “The capsule landed safely under parachutes. A similar abort technique would be used to save passengers in case people were flying on board the rocket during a failing launch.”

The company, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, opened in Kent in 2000 and expanded its headquarters in 2020 to a 236,000-square-foot blue-colored facility along 76th Avenue South between South 212th and South 228th streets.

Blue Origin launched its first rides into space in 2021 and eventually plans to have people living and working in space.


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