Blue Origin gets FCC launch licence
March 27, 2023
By Chris Forrester
The Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin rocket business has received a ‘special temporary authority’ licence from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the next launch of its New Shepard rocket variant.
Blue Origin Texas LLC applied for its licence on March 23rd. The FCC has licenced Blue Origin for “one suborbital flight of the launch system which includes a booster and capsule”.
The licence follows a problem which the last launch of New Shepard suffered (Flight NS-23) during its most recent flight, an uncrewed research mission that lifted off on September 12th 2022. New Shepard’s reusable first-stage booster was lost as a result, though the upper-stage capsule managed to land safely under parachutes.
A report on the problem filed on March 24th stated: “The direct cause of the NS-23 mishap was a thermo-structural failure of the engine nozzle. The resulting thrust misalignment properly triggered the Crew Capsule escape system, which functioned as designed throughout the flight. All systems designed to protect public safety functioned as planned. There were no injuries. There was no damage to ground-based systems, and all debris was recovered in the designated hazard area.”
The new licence is good for the period June 1st – August 1st and suggests that a launch will follow on from the anomaly suffered in September last year.
The uncrewed maiden launch of New Shepard’s NS-4 mission occurred on January 14th 2021 with Bezos himself a passenger.
New Shepard is a reusable launch vehicle capable of taking passengers and payloads into space. It is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space.