Enlarge / A BE-4 rocket engine powerpack on the test stand in West Texas.
Ever since the first successful suborbital flight of its New Shepard spacecraft and rocket, Blue Origin has been leading a charmed life.
The company, founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has launched and safely landed its reusable vehicle five times.
It has splashily announced a forthcoming orbital rocket, New Glenn.
And Bezos himself has racked up a number of aerospace awards for his accomplishments.
But on Sunday Blue Origin announced a setback. “We lost a set of powerpack test hardware on one of our BE-4 test stands yesterday,” the company tweeted. “Not unusual during development.” The company declined to provide more information about the accident to Ars, but most likely the powerpack—that is, the turbines and pumps that provide the fuel-oxidizer mix into the combustion chamber of the rocket engine—exploded.
It is not clear whether the test stand itself sustained serious damage (the company has at least two stands at its rocket engine testing facilities near Van Horn, Texas), nor whether the engine hardware was being pushed to some kind of limit, or whether this was part of routine testing as Blue Origin moves toward a full-scale engine test.
Also, while no details were released, Blue Origin added that it expects engine testing to resume “soon.”
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