June 14, 2024

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A parachute failed to deploy during Jeff Bezos' space tourism return mission

A parachute failed to deploy during Jeff Bezos' space tourism return mission

Blue Origin, founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, has launched an investigation following an incident during its first crewed flight two years ago, in which one of the parachutes in its New Shepard capsule failed to fully inflate.

Company The new Shepard rocket was launched on May 19 It carries a crew of six into suborbital space. The NS-25 mission saw the crew capsule land to end the flight, but only two of its three parachutes were fully inflated, SpaceNews mentioned. Steve Stich, director of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, recently revealed this issue during a press conference about the upcoming Boeing Starliner crewed test flight. Blue Origin did not announce the problem with its parachute, but instead briefed NASA officials about the anomaly since vehicles like Boeing's Starliner use similar components.

New Shepard uses three parachutes to slow the crew capsule as it returns to Earth, although it can land with only one parachute fully deployed. The parachutes were designed to deploy in three stages, but during the NS-25 mission, one of the three parachutes failed in the first stage when the line controlling its inflation was not cut as it was supposed to, according to Stich.

“It's a small group of people working on these parachutes,” SpaceNews quoted Stitch as saying. “They've been great about sharing data with us. They don't have any root cause yet, and we're continuing to follow them.”

Bezos' private space venture has restarted its space tourism program with the NS-25 mission nearly two years after his rocket was grounded. In September 2022, A New Shepard's unmanned flight ended in fire About a minute after take-off. The rocket booster exploded mid-flight and its capsule abandoned the ship while traveling at approximately 700 mph (1,130 km/h) and 29,000 feet (8,840 m) above the ground.

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Blue Origin identified “thermal structural failure of the engine nozzle” as the cause The reason behind the failure of the missile launch. At the time, New Shepard was carrying 36 payloads, more than half of which belonged to NASA, but there was no crew on board the capsule. The company resumed space tourism operations with its seventh human spaceflight on May 19, marking a comeback after the failure of the previous launch. We don't yet know how serious the parachute problem is or whether it will cause further delays. Although we're not umbrella experts, it's fair to say that this is concerning; If one parachute fails to deploy, this may indicate the possibility of multiple failures during landing.

In addition, engineers in the Boeing Starliner program discovered a problem of their own with the parachute, one that delayed the capsule's first crewed flight. A few weeks before the planned liftoff on July 21, 2023, Starliner teams discovered that the fabric parts of the parachutes had The failure load limit is lower than expected. This means that if one parachute fails, the remaining two parachutes will not be able to slow the Starliner vehicle enough for a safe landing in New Mexico. In March 2024, Boeing announced that it had solved the safety problem.

The problem with parachutes stems from the difficulty of accurately simulating the environment in which they spread. “Even today, with all the technology we have and everything else, as far as parachutes, we still can't model a parachute inflation,” Stitch said, according to SpaceNews. “It seems like it should be easy. It's still a bit difficult.”

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