Parachute Problem: Blue Origin Investigates Parachute Issue After Jeff Bezos’ Capsule Incident

Blue Origin, based in Kent, Washington, founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, is currently investigating an incident that occurred during its recent crewed flight. This incident involved a parachute failure on the New Shepard capsule, leading to concerns about the safety of the mission.

The company’s New Shepard rocket, launched on May 19, carried a six-person crew into suborbital space. Despite the successful landing of the crew capsule, only two out of three parachutes fully inflated. This discrepancy was revealed by Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, during a briefing on the upcoming Boeing Starliner crewed test flight.

New Shepard utilizes three parachutes to slow down the crew capsule’s descent back to Earth. However, during the NS-25 mission, one of the parachutes failed to inflate due to a line not being cut as intended at the initial stage. Engineers are currently investigating the root cause of this failure in collaboration with NASA officials.

Blue Origin’s space tourism program resumed with the NS-25 mission after a two-year hiatus. An earlier uncrewed flight of New Shepard had ended in disaster, with the rocket’s booster exploding mid-flight. This recent parachute incident has raised concerns regarding the safety and reliability of Blue Origin’s space vehicles.

In a related development, engineers working on Boeing’s Starliner program also encountered parachute issues that delayed the first crewed flight of the capsule. The discovery of a lower failure load limit in the parachute fabric highlighted the challenges in accurately simulating the parachute deployment environment.

The difficulty of accurately modeling parachute inflation poses a significant challenge for spaceflight engineers. Despite advancements in technology, the unpredictable nature of parachute deployment remains a critical aspect of ensuring safe landings for crewed spacecraft. These recent incidents underscore the importance of rigorous testing and continuous improvement in space technology.

As Blue Origin and other space companies work to address these challenges, the future of commercial space travel remains in the balance. The investigation into the New Shepard parachute failure will provide valuable insights into enhancing the safety and reliability of crewed space missions.