Blue Origin, funded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, may have stolen SpaceX’s thunder when it landed the first rocket back to Earth, but Elon Musk’s company still has it beat in one aspect. SpaceX was able to land orbital rockets while Blue Origin still mainly has sub-orbital ones. That, however, is going to change in a little over two years. Blue Origin has revealed that it plans to have its 82-meter tall New Glenn heavy-lift booster before the end of 2019.
Blue Origin announced its New Glenn orbital rocket, named after John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit our planet, around September last year. It has been rather stingy on the details back then and, even now that it has revealed a few more tidbits, it’s still being less than forthcoming.
The New Glenn would measure 82 meters in height and would be able to deliver 45 tons to low orbit. It can also carry an additional 13 tons to geostationary orbit. Initially scheduled to launch in 2020, Blue Origin might have decided to speed things up in order to gain an advantage over its rivals, both private and government. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which can lift 53 tons to low orbit, is already in development. NASA is also working on a Space Launch System that can lift 70 tons.
Blue Origin released a video showing how the New Glenn might launch and land. The first stage of the rocket is intended to be fully reusable and will land on a floating barge, not unlike SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Unlike the Falcon 9, that first stage will be a lot heavier.
Also unike SpaceX or NASA, Blue Origin’s end goal for its rockets leans more towards entertainment, a rather controversial position that has been criticized from the very start. Bezos, however, believes that space tourism could be a powerful driver for innovation in this field, citing the influence entertainment, specifically video games, have had in the development of computer hardware.
VIA: Ars Technica