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Blue Origin Rebounds With New Shepard’s Successful Launch After Previous Mission Failure

New Shepard clearing the tower during launch, December 19, 2023.
Screenshot: Blue Origin

After over a year of being grounded, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket embarked on its first cargo mission since a fiery anomaly led to a mission failure in September 2022.

New Shepard lifted off at 11:43 a.m. ET on Tuesday from Launch Site One in West Texas. The reusable rocket reached a maximum altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers), with the booster touching down at the 7:26 mark of the mission, and the capsule landing safely just over the ten minute mark.

Blue Origin’s NS-24 mission carried 33 research payloads (no humans), more than half of which were “developed and flown with support from NASA,” the company wrote. The mission also packed 38,000 digital postcards for Club for the Future, the company’s nonprofit that aims to spark young people’s interest in space.

The booster during touchdown.

The booster during touchdown.
Screenshot: Blue Origin

The mission marked New Shepard’s 24th flight and its 13th payload mission. The last time the rocket took off, its booster exploded mid-flight during an uncrewed mission on September 12, 2022. New Shepard’s capsule abandoned ship as the rocket was traveling in excess of 700 miles per hour (1,130 kilometers per hour) and while it was 29,000 feet (8,840 meters) above the ground.

Earlier this year, Blue Origin identified a “thermo-structural failure of the engine nozzle” as the reason behind the rocket failure. The nozzle on the booster’s engine overheated as a result of increased temperatures that caused “thermal damage and hot streaks,” according to Blue Origin.

Following the rocket malfunction, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded New Shepard as it ran an investigation into the anomaly. A year later, the FAA closed its investigation and handed Blue Origin a list of 21 corrective actions to implement before the company was able to resume New Shepard launches.

New Shepard’s return was a success, marking the rocket’s comeback from a rare anomaly and its resumption of suborbital trips.

 For more spaceflight in your life, follow us on X (formerly Twitter) and bookmark Gizmodo’s dedicated Spaceflight page.

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