NASA has added New Glenn, the large launch vehicle under development by Blue Origin, to the list of vehicles eligible to compete for future agency missions.
Blue Origin says the Air Force should continue to fund New Glenn so it can be certified for national security missions.
Blue Origin has studied repurposing upper stages of its future New Glenn launch vehicle to serve as habitats or for other applications as part of a series of NASA-funded commercialization studies.
The agreement, for an unspecified number of launches and satellites, makes Telesat the fifth customer to sign up to use the reusable launcher, which is slated for a maiden flight in 2021.
Launch companies that once offered many variants of an individual vehicle to match the specific needs of payloads are now moving to a smaller number of standardized designs, trading off optimization for cost savings.
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Blue Origin will begin flying two customers on the same New Glenn rocket after the launch vehicle has performed five missions with solo customers, according to Ted McFarland, Blue Origin’s commercial director of Asia-Pacific business.
The chief executive of Blue Origin says he expects the company’s BE-4 engine to complete qualification testing by the end of the year as the company ramps up work on its New Glenn orbital rocket.
Blue Origin's CEO says he expects the company’s BE-4 engine to complete qualification testing by the end of the year as the company ramps up work on its New Glenn orbital rocket.
Blue Origin quietly changed the design of its New Glenn rocket around the beginning of the year in order to hold to a 2020 first launch and increase the range of orbital missions the rocket can complete.
Blue Origin has added a fourth customer to its launch manifest for the still-in-development New Glenn rocket.
As Blue Origin continues tests of its BE-4 engine, United Launch Alliance is keeping quiet about when it might select that engine or an alternative for its Vulcan rocket.
The new chief executive of Blue Origin told the National Space Council his company is in discussions about certifying its New Glenn rocket for government missions, a shift in strategy that could put the company in competition with a customer.