VAN HORN, Texas – A New Shepard mission carrying dozens of small research projects, including one from a Kissimmee school, into space experienced an “anomaly” Monday morning during its launch at Blue Origin’s west Texas site.
During its live coverage, Blue Origin’s commentator said an “anomaly” happened but did not specify what exactly occurred. NS-23 was a dedicated payloads flight with 36 parcels on board, the company said. Most of the payloads were created at K-12 schools, universities and STEM facilities, and two of them are Florida-made.
“This wasn’t planned. We do not have any details, but our crew capsule was able to escape successfully,” the host said immediately after the anomaly.
Blue Origin later issued a tweet, adding “the capsule escape system successfully separated the capsule from the booster” and “the booster impacted the ground.” Space officials said no injuries were reported.
During today’s flight, the capsule escape system successfully separated the capsule from the booster. The booster impacted the ground. There are no reported injuries; all personnel have been accounted for.— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) September 12, 2022
At NeoCity Academy in Kissimmee, six students aimed to put a three-minute test on New Shepard to examine the effects of microgravity on ultrasonic waves. Blue Origin said the students’ investigation “could lead to further future discoveries about other types of waves.”
Elise Echeverry, a senior at the Kissimmee school who worked on the experiment, said while she’s proud of what they did, she’s still a bit disappointed.
“When I actually saw it flying up, I was like, ‘This is unbelievable,’” Echeverry said. “I read the word anomaly and I was like, ‘Oh shoot, here we go.’ It’s going, it’s going, it’s going.... and it’s gone. It feels like when you feel like the ball’s going to go in the basket, but it bounces out somehow.”
But she said she knows they’ll send the experiment up again, it’s “only a matter of when and how.”
Booster failure on today’s uncrewed flight. Escape system performed as designed. pic.twitter.com/xFDsUMONTh— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) September 12, 2022
Kevin Baker, another senior who worked on the experiment, said he also feels bittersweet about the anomaly.
“I’m not happy to not have seen it go,” Baker said. “I have no doubt in my mind that the system we came up with is going to work. I just want to see it happen. I think that’s what hurts me more is that it wasn’t something that I know we can do anything about.”
He likened it to if the ball got stuck in New York City on New Year’s Eve.
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“I know it will happen,” Baker said. “I just can’t wait until it does.”
Principal Investigators Rob Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul at the University of Florida collaborated with the University of Wisconsin to contribute the “Biological Imaging in Support of Suborbital Science” (BISS) experiment, testing precise measurement and interpretation of the body’s reaction to suborbital conditions. According to Blue Origin, NS-23 will be the fifth flight of a BISS payload on New Shepard.
A previous launch attempt was scrubbed due to weather.
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