After losing out on a Space Force contract, private space company Blue Origin has announced that its New Glenn maiden flight will be bumped to the fourth quarter of 2022. The company says that it hopes it will be able to launch National Security Space Launch (NSSL) payloads in the future in addition to civil contracts, among other things.
New Glenn is Blue Origin’s reusable orbital rocket, one that has been years in the making. The private space company boasts a number of features offered by New Glenn, including the ability to launch and land in 95-percent of weather conditions, plus twice the payload volume of competing spacecraft.
Blue Origin says it built the reusable rocket to handle a minimum of 25 flights, the idea being that reusing the first stage speeds up launches while reducing costs. Half a dozen hydraulic legs aid the first stage in landing on a moving ship, Blue Origin explains.
In its update today, Blue Origin said that it has ‘refined’ its New Glenn schedule ‘to match the demand’ from its commercial customers. The company said that it reached out to its customers about the change to make sure it would still meet their needs, noting that the company will ‘fulfill its commercial contracts, pursue a large and growing commercial market, and enter into new civil space launch contracts.’
The company specifically cites the Space Force’s decision to skip over New Glenn for the Phase 2 Launch Services Procurement contract as its reason for the schedule change. In addition to its commercial customers, Blue Origin says it hopes it will be able to launch NSSL payloads for the government at some point.