Jeff Bezos’ rocket company suffered its first launch failure Monday, per the AP. No one was aboard, only science experiments. The Blue Origin rocket veered off course over West Texas about a minute after liftoff. The capsule’s launch abort system immediately kicked in, lifting the craft off the top. Several minutes later, the capsule parachuted onto the remote desert floor. "Had a crew been on board they would have felt a serious jolt, but (would) have been safe," tweeted Eric Berger of ArsTechnica. Blue Origin's launch commentary went silent when the capsule catapulted off the rocket, later announcing: "It appears we've experienced an anomaly with today's flight. This wasn't planned."
The mishap occurred as the rocket was traveling nearly 700mph at an altitude of about 28,000 feet. There was no video shown of the rocket—only the capsule—after the failure occurred. The rocket usually lands upright on the desert floor and then is recycled for future flights; clearly, that did not happen this time. Launch commentator Erika Wagner said the capsule managed to escape successfully, with the webcast showing it reaching a maximum altitude of more than 37,000 feet. Thirty-six experiments were on board, half sponsored by NASA. They were in the capsule and may be safe.
“Booster failure on today’s uncrewed flight," the company tweeted later. "Escape system performed as designed." No further details were immediately provided. It was the 23rd flight for the New Shepard program, named after the first American in space, Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard. The same kind of rocket and capsule have been used to carry paying passengers on 10-minute rides to the edge of space. It was the ninth flight for this rocket.
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