By MARCIA DUNN
AP Aerospace Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — An overheated rocket engine nozzle caused last year’s Blue Origin launch failure that has grounded flights for six months, the company said Friday.
Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin said it expects to resume its quick trips to space from West Texas sometime later this year.
The New Shepard rocket was carrying experiments but no passengers when its engine nozzle broke apart due to excessive temperatures last September.
As the rocket started veering off course a minute into flight, the escape system kicked in and the capsule catapulted off and parachuted to safety.
But the rocket came crashing down, with the wreckage confined to the designated keep-out zone.
No one was hurt and no property on the ground was damaged. All of the critical flight hardware was recovered within days.
The investigation found that a design change led to the problem, which is being fixed, according to Blue Origin. The next flight will carry the experiments that were on the failed launch.
It was the first launch accident for the Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin, founded in 2000 by Bezos, who also started Amazon.
The company has launched 31 people to the edge of space since 2021, including Bezos and William Shatner, the original Captain Kirk of TV’s “Star Trek.”
The investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA and National Transportation Safety Board.
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