During a developmental test the spacecraft funded by the Amazon chief, Jeff Bezos, misfired and crashed at an altitude of 45,000 feet in West Texas.
The billionaire posted a note of acknowledgement on the official Blue Origin Web site mentioning that the setback was due toflight instability.
Three months ago, we successfully flew our second test vehicle in a short hop mission, and then last week we lost the vehicle during a developmental test at Mach 1.2 and an altitude of 45,000 feet. A flight instability drove an angle of attack that triggered our range safety system to terminate thrust on the vehicle, Bezos stated.
News about the failure was first reported by the Wall Street Journal after they got word from government officials.
However, Bezos also wrote that the company has already started work on their next development vehicle.
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Based in Kent, Wa., the privately funded aerospace company had been funded, earlier in 2009, an amount of $3.7 million by NASA. This was via a Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Crew Development program (CCDev) to develop new technological concepts for furthering human spaceflight operations.
According to NASA, Blue Origin has received funds to develop a composite crew test module and a launch escape system for its commercial spaceflight vehicle. Blue Origin is developing the New Shepard system, a rocket-propelled vehicle designed to routinely fly multiple astronauts into suborbital space at competitive prices.
In addition to providing the public with opportunities to experience spaceflight, the New Shepard system will also provide frequent opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into space and a microgravity environment.
The New Shepard vehicle will consist of a pressurized Crew Capsule (CC) carrying experiments and astronauts atop a reliable Propulsion Module (PM).
In the recent statement following the crash, the official Web site also mentioned that in case you're curious and wondering where the crew capsule is, the development vehicle doesn't have a crew capsule -- just a close-out fairing instead. We're working on the sub-orbital crew capsule separately, as well as an orbital crew vehicle to support NASA's Commercial Crew program.
Apart from Blue Origin, other NASA CCDev partners include Boeing, Paragon, Sierra Nevada and United Launch Alliance.