New Shepard lifted off from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site at 10:27 a.m. EDT on Sept. 12.
During the flight, Blue Origin’s New Line Bode NS-23 rocket suffered a serious failure of its BE-3 engine one minute after liftoff, causing damage to the booster and automatic activation of the launch abort system while its emergency escape system accelerated the unmanned capsule upward and away from the booster. The capsule’s parachute eventually deployed and it landed safely on the ground.
The NS-23 mission did not carry any space tourists today. It was a cargo flight designed to bring 36 payloads into suborbital space and back, 18 of which were funded by NASA. The status of the payloads is not yet known.
This is the second flight anomaly experienced by the New Shepard program. The first occurred during the first launch in 2015, when a failure of the first-stage booster ready for recovery led to a crash.
Blue Origin officials haven’t said what caused the problems during the launch. It issued a tweet noting that it may take some time to investigate and that more information will be released after the investigation.