schwit1 shares a report from Ars Technica: More than four months have passed since the launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ended in failure. No humans were onboard the vehicle because it was conducting a suborbital scientific research mission, but the failure has grounded the New Shepard fleet ever since. The rocket’s single main engine failed about one minute into the flight, at an altitude of around 9 km, as it was throttling back up after passing through the period of maximum dynamic pressure. At that point a large fire erupted in the BE-3 engine, and the New Shepard capsule’s solid rocket motor-powered escape system fired as intended, pulling the capsule away from the exploding rocket. The capsule experienced high G-forces during this return but appeared to make a safe landing.

Three days after this accident with the New Shepard-23 mission, the bipartisan leadership of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, calling for a thorough investigation. In an interview with Ars later that month, the chair of the subcommittee, US Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), urged Blue Origin to be transparent. “I’m heavily in favor of transparency, and I’m hoping that the FAA comes through pretty quickly with this,” Beyer said. “I would strongly encourage Blue Origin to be as transparent as possible, because that builds trust. It doesn’t have to be overnight, but it would be nice to keep people updated on the progress they’re making.” The company has not heeded this advice. An application filed with the FCC last week suggests Blue Origin might target a launch for its next New Shepard flight between April 1 and June 1. However, a spokesperson downplayed that speculation, saying it is not tied to a specific launch. “As a matter of course, we submit rolling FCC license requests to ensure we have continuous coverage for launches,” the spokesperson said.

It’s also unclear whether this next launch will be an uncrewed or a crewed mission.

Slashdot reader schwit1 adds: “For the time being, the New Space Race is pretty much Elon vs the World.”

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