Blue Origin releases details of mega rocket New Glenn

Company led by Jeff Bezos acquires first satellite launch contract

A screengrab of Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket launch simulation.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Blue Origin revealed new details of its heavy lift rocket, New Glenn Monday after announcing its first commercial satellite launch contract that will liftoff from Cape Canaveral.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and CEO of Amazon.com, announced the contract with Paris-based Eutelsat Communications at the Satellite 2017 industry conference in Washington, D.C., reported News 6 partner Florida Today.

"Eutelsat has launched satellites on many new vehicles and shares both our methodical approach to engineering and our passion for driving down the cost of access to space," Bezos said in a news release. "Welcome to the launch manifest, Eutelsat, can’t wait to fly together."

Euteslat CEO Rodolphe Belner said the company selected Blue Origin for the contact because of their “strategy” and “Mindset to compete in the launch service industry.”

“Their solid engineering approach and their policy to develop technologies that will form the base of a broad generation of launchers corresponds to what we expect from our industrial partners" Belner said.

The Eutelsat communications satellite launch could happen in 2021 or 2022, the company said.

Shortly after the announcement, the Texas-based company posted a video simulation of a New Glenn launch and landing on an ocean barge.

The video shows New Glenn lifted upright on a launch pad, blasting off and returning the first stage booster to land on an ocean barge. The process looks similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 landing off the Cape Canaveral coast.

New Glenn, named after NASA astronaut John Glenn, will come in two versions— a two stage and a three stage-- and is capable of launching heavy payloads and human missions.

A 750,000 square-foot Blue Origin rocket assembly facility is currently under construction at Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Park, just outside the space center.

Blue Origin's rocket facility, seen in November 2016, currently under construction near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The company is also renovating Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 36.

In another milestone for the company, Blue Origin posted a picture Monday of the first completed BE-4 rocket engine. Blue Origin is developing the engine to end U.S. use on the Russian-made RD-180 engines. United Launch Alliance uses the RD-180 for the Atlas V launch vehicle. ULA plans to use Blue Origin’s newly-developed engine for a new rocket, the Vulcan.

The company said the engines will be ready to fly by 2019. The massive New Glenn will use seven BE-4 engines.

Watch the New Glenn launch and landing simulation video below.

About the Author:

Emilee Speck

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News. Emilee is a Space Coast native and graduate of the University of North Florida journalism program.

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