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Blue Origin To Build, Launch Heavy Lift Rocket From Florida’s Space Coast

Blue Origin unveiled new details of the private space company’s newest spacecraft: a heavy lift rocket that will be manufactured and launched from Florida’s Space Coast.

The rocket company’s founder and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced new details of the rocket in a YouTube video, including plans to land the first stage booster on a barge at sea.

Bezos says the rocket can carry up to 45 metric tons of cargo to low Earth orbit. Called the New Glenn, it joins the ranks of other heavy lift rockets coming to Florida’s Space Coast. SpaceX said it will launch its heavy lift rocket, the Falcon Heavy, this summer. It can carry around 54 metric tons to orbit.

Both rockets plan to leverage reusable parts – lowering the cost of access to space. SpaceX is planning on launching its first “flight-proven” booster later this month. Bezos said the Blue Origin booster will land on a barge using six landing legs. Blue Origin is developing the BE-4 rocket engine with re-usability in mind, hoping to fire the engine up to 100 times.

Speaking at the Satellite 2017 Conference in Washington, Bezos announced the New Glenn rocket had its first paying customer, global communications company Eutelsat, launching as early as 2021. A test flight of the rocket is slated for 2020.

“Their solid engineering approach, and their policy to develop technologies that will form the base of a broad generation of launchers, corresponds to what we expect from our industrial partners,” said Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat CEO. “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. This can only be good news for the profitability and sustainability of our industry.”

Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral’s launch complex 36. Blue Origin is building a rocket-manufacturing facility just south of Kennedy Space Center, and continues to develop the launch complex.

The private launch company announced another commercial customer, OneWeb. The satellite manufacturer plans to launch a constellation of communication satellites to provide internet access across the globe. The company is developing manufacturing facility next door to Blue Origin’s rocket factory.

NASA is working on its own Heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System, slated to launch at the end of 2018. That system is being developed to send humans into deep space. NASA is evaluating a plan to send crew of astronauts on a trip around the moon, as early as 2019.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »