(WASHINGTON) A Blue Origin rocket launcher crashed shortly after liftoff in West Texas on Monday, Jeff Bezos’ company announced, after the capsule was able to separate from the rest of the rocket.
Updated yesterday at 5:04 PM.
It is a blow to the company and the space tourism industry, which is subject to fierce competition, and visitors may have survived the accident, a first for Blue Origin.
A video released by the company shows the capsule activating its emergency engines and ejecting from the main launcher a minute after liftoff. Despite the deployment of parachutes, we witness his hard landing.
The video doesn’t show what happened to the launcher, and the company writes that he “fell to the ground,” whereas if successful he should have slowly stood up.
“Launcher malfunctioned during drone flight today,” the company first announced, adding that the capsule’s ejection system worked as expected.
“There were no injuries,” Blue Origin said. The unmanned capsule, “New Shepherd 23”, carried only research equipment for this mission.
The US civil aviation regulator, the FAA, has announced that it has suspended further launches of the rocket while an investigation is underway.
“The capsule landed safely and the launcher touched down in the danger zone,” the agency wrote.
It was 23e The work for the company, at first, ended in failure.
But billionaire Jared Isaacman, head of organized space missions with rival SpaceX, said, “The take-off safety system worked well. »
“With so many launchers, (rockets), engines and missiles being developed in the sector, such an event should not come as a surprise,” he said.
The space race, long reserved for the states, has opened up in recent years to several private companies competing in the U.S., including Blue Origin: SpaceX, led by Elon Musk and partnered with NASA by Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin’s main suborbital flight competitor but founder Richard Branson’s flight in July 2021. .
Blue Origin has sent 32 people into space since July 2021, when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took part in the first flight. Space tourists, who pay an undisclosed price for a ticket, benefit from ten minutes of weightlessness before landing in the middle of the desert.
Among them, the actor who will play the iconic Captain Kirk of the Star Trek series, William Shatner and, in early August 2022, the first Egyptian and the first Portuguese to be sent into space.