Skip to main content

See how Blue Origin’s rocket did in first flight since 2022 explosion

Replay: New Shepard Mission NS-24 Webcast

Blue Origin sent its suborbital rocket to the edge of space and back on its first flight since a 2022 midair explosion grounded its operation.

The single-stage suborbital rocket, called New Shepard, lifted off at 10:42 a.m. local time from Blue Origin’s launch facility in West Texas.

As planned, the rocket flew to the edge of space before releasing the uncrewed capsule from the top of the vehicle. The booster then returned to Earth and successfully landed upright, paving the way for its reuse.

The capsule reached an altitude of 347,601 feet (about 65 miles), three miles beyond the Kármán line, the place generally regarded as where space begins. It then spent several minutes in a weightless environment high above Earth before touching down in the West Texas desert in a parachute-assisted landing.

The mission, which included 33 science and research payloads, lasted 10 minutes and 13 seconds.

Soon after touchdown, the Blue Origin team posted a message on social media, saying: “That’s a wrap … Thank you to our customers who flew important science today to advance our future of living and working in space to benefit Earth. We can’t wait to see what your science unfolds.”

That’s a wrap for #NS24. Thank you to our customers who flew important science today to advance our future of living and working in space to benefit Earth. We can’t wait to see what your science unfolds. ✨ pic.twitter.com/7fR2bl6BWb

— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) December 19, 2023

The successful voyage is an important one for Blue Origin as it takes it a step closer to resuming tourism rides to the edge of space.

The spaceflight company, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, had been using the New Shepard for the rides, conducting six successful flights between July 2021 and August 2022.

But in September 2022, an anomaly at 27,800 feet caused the vehicle to explode suddenly.

Fortunately, no one was on board, though had they been, they would’ve been saved by the capsule’s emergency escape system, which functioned as designed, automatically separating the capsule from the booster, which then returned to Earth in a parachute-assisted landing.

An investigation into the failed flight revealed that a nozzle on the rocket’s engine suffered a “structural fatigue failure.” Corrective measures taken by engineers included redesigning the engine’s combustion chamber and adjusting some of its operating parameters.

“Demand for New Shepard flights continues to grow, and we’re looking forward to increasing our flight cadence in 2024,” Blue Origin’s Phil Joyce said following Tuesday’s successful mission.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Virgin Galactic announces first fully crewed flight since 2021
Virgin Galactic's space plane heading to the edge of space.

Space tourism company Virgin Galactic has announced plans for another test flight ahead of its first commercial mission this summer.

The test flight using its rocket-powered space plane will take place in “late May” and will be the company’s second fully crewed trip since Virgin founder Richard Branson and others tested the hardware in a successful flight in July 2021.

Read more
Watch Blue Origin’s rocket explode mid-flight
A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket explodes in mid-air.

Blue Origin suffered a rare mid-flight rocket failure in a mission on Monday, September 12. The flight was uncrewed, and no one on the ground was hurt by falling debris.

Lifting off from Blue Origin’s launch facility in West Texas, the sub-orbital New Shepard rocket, which has successfully performed six crewed and 17 uncrewed flights to the edge of space since 2015, appeared to be climbing normally.

Read more
How to watch Blue Origin launch space tourists to the edge of space today
Blue Origin launching its fourth crewed flight.

Blue Origin, the private launch company owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, will shortly be launching six space tourists on a suborbital trip to the edge of space. The mission, called NS-21, was originally scheduled for last month but had to be delayed due to technical issues. Now, the launch will go ahead from Blue Origin's Launch Site One in West Texas.

The launch will be livestreamed by Blue Origin, and we've got the details so you can watch along at home.

Read more