Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin To Relaunch New Shepard Rocket After 15-Month Hiatus

After a pause of over 15 months due to an in-flight malfunction, Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin is readying to relaunch its New Shepard rocket next week.

What Happened: The company announced the plans on Tuesday to initiate the launch window on Dec. 18, Business Insider reported. The rocket will transport 33 research and science payloads, along with 38,000 postcards from Clubs for the Future, a nonprofit set up by Blue Origin.

Following a mission abortion in September 2022 due to an abrupt mid-flight issue, the New Shepard has remained grounded. The Federal Aviation Administration, in a September 2023 report, linked the problem to a “structural failure of an engine nozzle caused by higher than expected engine operating temperatures.” The FAA recommended 21 corrective measures, including the nozzle and engine components’ redesign.

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Phil Joyce, Senior Vice President at Blue Origin, who oversees the New Shepard, informed employees, according to Bloomberg, that these amendments have been implemented. The successful relaunch of the rocket would signify a crucial leap for Jeff Bezos in the billionaire space competition against rivals like Virgin Galactic of Richard Branson and SpaceX of Elon Musk.

Why It Matters: Blue Origin faced setbacks earlier this year when one of its BE-4 rocket engines exploded during testing. This incident not only disrupted Blue Origin’s plans but also had potential consequences for its clients.

Following the incident, Blue Origin made a considerable shift in its workplace policy, demanding that many of its employees be physically present in the office five days a week. This change was aimed at improving desk occupancy rates in remote offices.

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