WATCH: Uncrewed Blue Origin Rocket Catches Fire During Launch, Crashes

by Samantha Whidden

Things didn’t go as planned on Monday (September 12th) when a Blue Origin rocket experienced a “booster failure” during an uncrewed launch of its New Shepard rocket.

According to AccuWeather, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket suffered a booster failure after lifting off. This caused an emergency abort system to separate the capsule from the booster. The uncrewed craft was notably carrying 36 payloads from academic, research institutions, and students across the globe. It was excepted to reach the edge of space and return in a series of suborbital flights. 

AccuWeather further reported that this was the 23rd mission for the rocket. It has carried more than 150 commercial payloads including 18 on the flight on Monday, which was funded by NASA. 

Prior to the launch at 9:30 a.m., there was a series of holds that delayed the Blue Origin flight. As the rocket lifted off from Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas, flames could be seen on the live broadcast. The flames shot from the booster just over a minute in the flight as the rocket pushed to Max Q. This is the point where aerodynamic stress on the craft reaches max. 

Around 30 seconds after the flames were seen, the Blue Origin rocket’s parachute system was also deployed at the capsule and drifted back for what was described as a “soft landing” on the ground. 

In the live broadcast, Erika Wagner, Director of Payload Sales at Blue Origin, spoke about the situation. “It appears we’ve experienced an anomaly with today’s flight. This was unplanned and we don’t have any details yet. But our crew capsule was able to escape successfully.”

Blue Origin Issues Statement About New Shepard Rocket Issue 

Following the incident with the New Shepard rocket, Blue Origin took to Twitter to release a statement. “We’re responding to an issue this morning at our Launch Site One location in West Texas. This was a payload mission with no astronauts on board. The capsule escape system functioned as designed.”

Blue Origin also shared a video of the incident, noting it was a booster failure. “Escape system performed as designed,” the company repeatedly claimed. In a separate statement, it was revealed, “During today’s flight, the capsule escape system successfully separated the capsule from the booster. The booster impacted the ground. There are no reported injuries; all personnel have been accounted for.” 

Blue Origin’s New Shepard was originally set to launch on August 31st. However, the mission was scrubbed due to the weather. This also happened on September 1st. There have been no updates about when the next attempted launch will take place. 

Blue Origin is currently developing reusable launch vehicles as well as in-space systems that are safe, low cost, and serve the Neds of all civil, commercial, and defense customers.