PARIS — Jeff Bezos announced Sept. 1 that Blue Origin is developing a family of orbital rockets it’s calling New Glenn.
Both the two-stage and three-stage versions of the rocket would stand taller than the United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy and SpaceX Falcon Heavy, according to the infographic the Blue Origin and Amazon.com founder tweeted.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) September 12, 2016
Both New Glenn 2 and New Glenn 3 would be powered by a cluster of seven liquid-natural-gas-fueled BE-4 engines of the sort the Kent, Washington-based company is currently developing for United Launch Alliance’s planned Vulcan semi-reusable rocket.
“Building, flying, landing, and re-flying New Shepard has taught us so much about how to design for practical, operable reusability,” Bezos wrote in a Sept. 12 email. “And New Glenn incorporates all of those learnings.”
“Named in honor of John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, New Glenn is 23 feet in diameter and lifts off with 3.85 million pounds of thrust from seven BE-4 engines. Burning liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen, these are the same BE-4 engines that will power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket.
“The 2-stage New Glenn is 270 feet tall, and its second stage is powered by a single vacuum-optimized BE-4 engine. The 3-stage New Glenn is 313 feet tall. A single vacuum-optimized BE-3 engine, burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, powers its third stage. The booster and the second stage are identical in both variants.
“We plan to fly New Glenn for the first time before the end of this decade from historic Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. New Glenn is designed to launch commercial satellites and to fly humans into space. The 3-stage variant – with its high specific impulse hydrogen upper stage – is capable of flying demanding beyond-LEO missions.
“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. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that’s a story for the future.”