The FAA has grounded Blue Origin’s space tourism flights after one of its rockets blew up a minute after launch on Monday. The rocket was on an uncrewed suborbital mission when something went wrong at 65 seconds. The rocket was enveloped in flame while the crew capsule, which was carrying 36 scientific and technological payloads, blew clear, as designed, thanks to the abort system. The capsule descended to a safe parachute landing but the rocket, which normally lands itself vertically, crashed “within the hazard area” of the launch facility.
The FAA said in a statement that the system won’t fly again until the cause of the explosion is known. “Before the New Shepard vehicle can return to flight, the FAA will determine whether any system, process or procedure related to the mishap affected public safety,” the agency said in a tweet. The anomaly occurred at about 28,000 feet as the rocket was nearing 700 MPH and close to max-q, the point at which the vehicle is undergoing maximum aerodynamic pressure.