On Blue Origin’s 23rd flight of New Shepard, NS-23, the uncrewed capsule ignited its abort system to get clear from the New Shepard rocket as flame appeared around the rocket main engine as the rocket crossed 28,000 feet.
The capsule successfully cleared the rocket and then deployed its drogue and main parachutes for a soft touchdown on the ground.
Blue Origin ended their stream shortly after the capsule touchdown, and didn’t provide any specific information as to the cause.
While they didn’t provide any information, the stream showed the BE-3 engine’s flame changing color around 25,000, and then a much brighter flame entirely engulfing the engine as the rocket neared 28,000 feet. This points to a catastrophic failure of the engine.
Just moments after, the capsule’s abort system engaged to carry the capsule and its cargo away form any risk pose by the BE-3
This specific capsule is RSS H.G. Wells, and it is paired with New Shepard Booster 3. The two first flew back in December of 2017 and last few in August of 2021. The two have previously 8 uncrewed missions, including a high altitude abort test.
No doubt this will put a hold on New Shepard launches until the teams have a good understanding of just what went wrong and how it can be prevented in the future.
That last five launches of New Shepard have all been crewed missions with the capsule RSS First Step, which has also conducted a total of 8 flights.