On Monday morning, Bezos tweeted an image of Blue Origin’s New Glenn 2-stage and 3-stage rockets, both of which are larger than SpaceX’s Falcon rocket models.
The newest model in the Jeff Bezos rocket line now has a name: the New Glenn.
The New Glenn rocket is meant to be reusable: after taking off and reaching space, it can return to Earth and land vertically on its boosters. It builds off the New Shepherd rocket and capsule, which launched and landed for the first time in November 2015.
Bezos started Blue Origin 16 years ago based on a childhood dream to make commercial space flight affordable. When Musk founded SpaceX two years later, his intention was to facilitate the process of colonizing Mars. Along with others like famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, Musk believes the human race has only a limited time left on Earth and must find a way to populate Mars and other planets or risk extinction.
SpaceX is planning the launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket in early 2017, but the maiden voyage has already been delayed several times. According to SpaceX’s website, the Falcon Heavy will be twice as powerful as any other rocket in the world when it eventually gets off the ground.
Earlier this month, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded while on the launch pad, destroying its satellite cargo.
The rocket will be 7 metres in diameter and range between 82 and 95 metres tall. That makes it physically larger than any current rockets and nearly as big as the Saturn V rocket that brought humans to the moon.
“Our vision is millions of people living and working in space, and New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course,” Bezos wrote. “Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that’s a story for the future.”
Reusable rockets should reduce the cost of space flight, and both Blue Origin and SpaceX have successfully demonstrated that their rockets can re-land. SpaceX is still investigating an explosion during a test flight before a Falcon 9 launch on 1 September, and it’s not yet known how that will affect its launch schedule or its plans for the Falcon Heavy.