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Blue Origin releases results of investigation into New Shepard flight failure

Blue Origin today released by email its results of its investigation into the New Shepard flight failure that occurred in September 2022, when the launch abort system activated soon after launch and released the capsule early so that it could return safely to Earth.

[T]he MIT [investigation team] determined the direct cause of the mishap to be a structural fatigue failure of the BE-3PM engine nozzle during powered flight. The structural fatigue was caused by operational temperatures that exceeded the expected and analyzed values of the nozzle material. Testing of the BE-3PM engine began immediately following the mishap and established that the flight configuration of the nozzle operated at hotter temperatures than previous design configurations. Forensic evaluation of the recovered nozzle fragments also showed clear evidence of thermal damage and hot streaks resulting from increased operating temperatures. The fatigue location on the flight nozzle is aligned with a persistent hot streak identified during the investigation.

The MIT determined that design changes made to the engine’s boundary layer cooling system accounted for an increase in nozzle heating and explained the hot streaks present. Blue Origin is implementing corrective actions, including design changes to the combustion chamber and operating parameters, which have reduced engine nozzle bulk and hot-streak temperatures. Additional design changes to the nozzle have improved structural performance under thermal and dynamic loads.

In other words, the company had made some design changes to the engine prior to launch, and these caused the hot spots that destroyed the nozzle.

The company’s email says it is fixing this issue and plans to launch “soon”, but issued no date.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. All editions can also be purchased direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Ray Van Dune

    I wonder how the average customer would have handled the 13Gs of the escape system? Given the mortgage-sized cost of a ticket, one would have to assume an average age on the high side of “29”, leading to an answer of “not that well”.

    Having regularly pulled 4Gs in aerobatics, I sure wouldn’t want to try more than 3X that at my current “29 +++” age!

  • Mitch S.

    13Gs! I didn’t know it was so high. I assume it’s peak Gs – for a very short time.
    Got me wondering about how many Gs an average person (not Col. Stapp) could safely withstand. Didn’t know where to look so I turned to some AI:

    “how many g’s can an average human safely withstand? For example during a rocket abort”

    “The maximum amount of acceleration, or g-forces, that an average human can safely withstand depends on various factors such as the duration of the acceleration, the direction of the acceleration, the individual’s age, health, and physical condition.

    However, as a general rule, the human body can typically withstand a maximum of around 5 g’s for a brief period (less than a minute) without sustaining permanent damage. Some highly trained individuals, such as pilots or astronauts, may be able to tolerate higher g-forces for short periods due to their training and physical conditioning.

    During a rocket abort, the acceleration can be very high and can vary depending on the specific abort scenario. For example, a typical maximum acceleration during a Soyuz spacecraft abort can reach up to 17 g’s for a short period, while the maximum acceleration during a Space Shuttle abort was around 3 g’s.

    It’s important to note that even if an individual can tolerate high g-forces for a brief period, sustained exposure to high g-forces can lead to serious health problems such as vision impairment, loss of consciousness, and damage to internal organs. Therefore, it’s critical to design safety systems and procedures that minimize exposure to high g-forces during rocket launches and abort scenarios.”

    Bing chat:
    “The maximum g-force that a human can withstand depends on many factors such as age, gender, physical condition, and duration of exposure. In general, an individual can withstand anywhere between 2 to 5 Gs and be relatively unaffected (apart from an exciting rush of adrenaline, that is!) 1. However, when undergoing an acceleration of 9 G’s, your body feels nine times heavier than usual, blood rushes to the feet, and the heart can’t pump hard enough to bring this heavier blood to the brain. This can only be sustained for a few seconds 2. Most of us can withstand up to 4-6G 23. It’s difficult to calculate the exact level of G-force that would kill a human because the duration of exposure is such an important factor. There are isolated incidents of humans surviving abnormally high G-forces, most notably the Air Force officer John Stapp, who demonstrated a human can withstand 46.2 G’s 4”

  • judd

    They made changes to the engine boundary layer cooling system and didn’t test before launch?

    That seems foolish, perhaps too much reliance on unvalidated computer modeling?

  • David M. Cook

    If they get this fixed & re-launched before the last quarter of 2025, I will eat my hat! Blue Origin should change their name to “Delay Origin”!

  • Mike Borgelt

    Tolerable G forces depend on your orientation. Seated, upright, without a G-suit 4G is tolerable by most people for maybe tens of seconds. Front to back G lying on your back is much more tolerable as the blood doesn’t rush out of your head.
    Personal experience was 5.5G caused a grey out even with G-suit. After learning to push the suit full inflation button, better and didn’t grey out.
    Due to fortunate work circumstances and times that weren’t so anxious about risk and liability, I managed to score quite a few hours in the back seat of the Macchi MB-326 jet trainer of the Royal Australian Air Force.

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