Ground issue delays Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launch

Kathmandu: Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin called off a return-to-flight mission with its suborbital New Shepard rocket in Texas over what it described as a ground system issue encountered during preparations for liftoff, the company said.

“We’re scrubbing #NS24 today due to a ground system issue the team is troubleshooting,” Blue Origin wrote on social network X, formally Twitter. The company later said it was targeting Tuesday 10:37 a.m. CT (16:37 GMT) for New Shepard’s next launch attempt.

New Shepard, the company’s only active rocket that can carry humans and cargo on short trips to and from the brim of space, was scheduled to launch at 9:30 a.m. CT (1530 GMT) on Monday for the first time since a mission failure last year triggered a 15-month grounding.

No humans, but 33 research experiments, were to be on board for the mission, named NS24 for what would have been its 24th flight. A ground system issue typically concerns a snag with the rocket’s launch pad, rather than the rocket itself.

New Shepard’s last mission early last year failed mid-flight because of a “structural failure” in the rocket’s engine nozzle that had been caused by excessive heat blasting from the engine’s combustion chamber, Blue Origin said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees mishap investigations by private rocket companies, required Blue Origin to redesign New Shepard’s engine and make 20 other fixes before returning to flight.

News Source: Reuters