spaceSpace and Physics

Bezos's New Shepherd Rocket Aborts Launch Mid-Flight, Watch It All Go Down Here

With the launch abort system triggered within 1 second of detecting the anomaly, it would have saved lives if people had been onboard.


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockSep 12 2022, 15:39 UTC
The crew capsule slowly descending into the desert with three large parachutes open above it.
Successful capsule descent of NS22 back in August. Image Credit: Blue Origin

New Shepherd’s mission launch today did not go according to plan when it aborted after a "mid-flight anomaly"  but you couldn't ask for a better test of a launch abort system. 

As the rocket was around 8.5 kilometers (27,800 feet) above ground, the uncrewed capsule carrying a science and research payload activated its abort engine and flew away to safety. The mission marked the 23rd flight of New Shepard from Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and the ninth for this particular reusable rocket.


The abort system kicked in just as the rocket was reaching Max Q, the point where the vehicle experiences the maximum dynamic pressure, which depends on air pressure and the speed at which a rocket is moving.

“It appears we have 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,” Erica Wagner said during the live broadcast of the launch.

While the launch was not successful, it is extremely positive that the crew capsule (even though it did not have passengers onboard this time) was able to successfully and easily separate, before landing back on the ground.

“The capsule escape system functioned as designed," Blue Origin tweeted. You don't get a better test than that.

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