Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, +1.49% Chairman Jeff Bezos, renowned for keeping quiet about strategic goals for his fledgling space company Blue Origin LLC, on Monday reversed course by disclosing plans for a giant, reusable rocket — named after iconic 1960s astronaut John Glenn — and powerful enough to blast people as well as satellites into high-Earth orbit.
The New Glenn rocket would feature a cluster of seven main engines and stand more than 310 feet tall. If it flies by the end of the decade as intended, the largest version of the proposed booster could vault Blue Origin, based in Kent, Wash., into head-to-head commercial rivalry with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, founded and run by another billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk.
Ultimately, Bezos suggested, derivatives of the technology being developed for Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket could even propel spacecraft deep into the solar system.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) September 12, 2016
In an unusually detailed email and a Twitter posting on Monday, Bezos broke away somewhat from his own rule of keeping quiet about plans until they bear fruit. Bezos, among other things, explicitly said his planned rocket “is designed to launch commercial satellites and to fly humans into space.” He added that a three-stage version and its advanced hydrogen-powered engine “is capable of flying demanding…missions” beyond the relatively low orbit of the international space station.
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