Blue Origin Announces New Glenn Orbital Launch Vehicle

The heat just got turned up another notch in New Space Race. Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin just announced a new rocket, the New Glenn. NASA reports that the 23' diameter rocket will provide 3.85 million pounds of thrust. While Blue Origin's new rockets are enormous, they don't have quite enough thrust to match the 5 million pounds of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy. Blue Origin's design does offer some advantages though, and their new rockets will be enough for spaceflight beyond low earth orbit. Blue Origin will definitely be set up for moonshots, if not trips to Mars.

The New Glenn will come in 2- and 3-stage varieties, standing at 270' and 313' tall, respectively. Just like the smaller and so far very successful New Shepard rocket, the New Glenn will be reusable. Blue Origin plans to land it upright and speculation is that they're planning on barge landings like SpaceX.

Bezos has dealt well so far with some ribbing as part of a rivalry with Elon Musk. When Blue Origin first landed one of its New Shepard rockets, Musk congratulated him while making sure to mention that it had only been a suborbital flight. SpaceX has already been filling contracts for NASA and private companies using their orbital spacecraft. I'm very pleased to see that Blue Origin has been working on their own orbital vehicles the whole time. The intensified competition can only improve the cause of human spaceflight overall.

We wish Blue Origin continued success in their entry to the space tourism business and in the development of the New Glenn. This space race gets more interesting every day!