Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has christened two launch vehicles under development — its first orbit-capable craft and another set for deep-space missions — the New Glenn.
A two-stage version will stand 270 high with a 23-foot diameter, generating 3.85 million pounds of thrust at liftoff via seven of the company’s BE-4 engines burning liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen. Another BE-4 will power the second stage.
Blue Origin also plans a 313-foot three-stage version of the rocket that will employ a BE-4 in the second stage and a hydrogen-powered BE-3 engine in the third stage. The BE-3 is the same engine use Blue Origin’s sub-orbital New Shepard rocket that’s been repeatedly tested during the past several months.
The BE-4 is under development, and Blue Origin is trying to get United Launch Alliance to use it in its new Vulcan booster.
The New Glenn will boast a reusable first stage, Bezos said.
“New Glenn is designed to launch commercial satellites and to fly humans into space,” Bezos said. “The three-stage variant — with its high specific impulse hydrogen upper stage — is capable of flying demanding beyond-LEO (low-Earth orbit) missions.”
Bezos recently said its next test of the New Shepard — a rocket named in honor of the first American in space, Alan Shepard — will be in early October and feature a staged emergency in which the craft’s crew capsule is jettisoned.
Illustration: Blue Origin