Blue Origin and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just made his intentions of commercializing space more intense. Giving Elon Musk and the rest a run for their money, Blue Origin announced the name and look of its future rocket, that will be capable of launching payloads into space along with people into orbit around the Earth.
The rocket has been named New Glenn, after the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth, John Glenn. And going by the concept art of the rocket, it sure seems to be much bigger than SpaceX’s future Falcon Heavy rocket and United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy.
Going by the industry trend, New Glenn will be reusable and the first stage of the rocket will be able to make a landing post-launch. It is similar to Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle that also lands after a flight. But New Shepard can only reach sub-orbital space and hence its not travelling as fast or as high as a rocket going to outer space. Being able to land an orbital rocket after launch will be a new milestone for the space industry.
The New Glenn rocket will be 23 feet in diameter and will range between 270 and 313 feet in height, depending whether there is one upper stage or two on top of the rocket. While with one upper stage, the rocket will be able to send payloads and people into Lower Orbit Earth (LEO), with two upper stages, the rocket will be able to take payloads beyond LEO.
Powering the New Glenn will be seven BE-4s engines currently under development by Blue Origin. It happens to be the same engine that the company is hoping to sell to United Launch Alliance for their Vulcan rocket. The BE-4s can provide a thrust of 3.85 million pounds which is more than the 2 million pounds that powers the Delta IV heavy, but lower than the 5 million pounds the Falcon Heavy by SpaceX can give.
The rocket will be constructed at Blue Origin’s future manufacturing facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The New Glenn will launch from Launch Complex 26, a site leased by Blue Origin from Aerospace development agency Space Florida.
According to what Jeff Bezos told The Verge, the rocket will be ready by the end of this decade. He also hinted at another project called Project Armstrong, but refused to divulge any further details. Going by the name, it may involve going to the moon.
Blue Origin’s current involvement is only in space tourism and carrying out sub-orbital research for NASA. With the New Glenn, Blue Origin will scale totally new heights in the space aviation industry. The company will be able to join the ranks of SpaceX and United Launch Alliance in ferrying satellites and researchers into Earth’s orbit.