Amazon CEO's Blue Origin Rocket Has Its First Customer

Mar 08, 2017, 00:24
Amazon CEO's Blue Origin Rocket Has Its First Customer

SpaceX's well-known competitor in the private space industry, Blue Origin, is making strides in its efforts for private citizens breach the final frontier.

The Amazon founder tweeted two pictures of the new BE-4 engine.

Like New Shepard, the New Glenn booster is created to fly itself back to Earth so it can be recovered and reflown, significantly slashing launch costs. But the company can think about taking the lead it first needs to catch up, and that's what it's attempting to do with its newly revealed New Glenn rocket and BE-4 engine. That's where the company has a number of rocket engine test stands, and where BE-4 testing has been done up until now. Bezos said New Glenn would be capable of launching up to 13 metric tons (about 28,000 lbs.) into geostationary transfer orbit and 45 metric tons (about 99,000 lbs.) into low-Earth orbit. Blue Origin's upcoming rocket should allow the company to compete with SpaceX for paying customers, a move that would allow it to sketch a path to profitability.

Bezos said his goal was to lower the cost of flights so that millions of people can live and work in space.

But the New Glenn may not be the only rocket sporting the BE-4 engine in the future.

"We are very close to selecting", said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of ULA, in a February 16 presentation at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Faced with criticism for using Russian-made RD-180 engines for the launch of military satellites, ULA opted to build a new rocket that will use the fourth-generation engine. Staged combustion engines now flying include the Russian RD-180 on ULA's Atlas 5, which the Vulcan will replace.

Eutelsat has taken chances on new rockets before, placing its satellites on the inaugural launches of the Atlas 3, Atlas 5, Delta 4 and Ariane 5 ECA boosters in the early 2000s.

A space race, including Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic, could gain steam under the new administration, after President Donald Trump said in his inaugural address that the "ready to unlock the mysteries of space". In including New Glenn in our manifest we are pursuing our longstanding strategy of innovation that drives down the cost of access to space and drives up performance.

New Glenn is a follow-on program to Origin's suborbital New Shepard launch system, a rocket and capsule created to fly payloads and passengers to about 62 miles above the planet.

"Having a very significant player with large ambition, with capacity to innovate and with a proven track record of innovation, is extremely good news for our industry", said Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer.