Blue Origin unveils ‘New Glenn’ orbital rocket

Image: Rocket lineup
Blue Origin’s chart shows a lineup of past, present and future rockets, ranging from Orbital ATK’s Antares to the New Glenn configurations and the Saturn 5 moon rocket. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is providing a sneak preview of the “New Glenn” rocket for orbital launches, which his Blue Origin space venture has been working on for four years already.

Bezos shared the design and basic specifications in an update sent to thousands of email subscribers.

“Named in honor of John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, New Glenn is 23 feet in diameter and lifts off with 3.85 million pounds of thrust from seven BE-4 engines,” Bezos wrote. “Burning liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen, these are the same BE-4 engines that will power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket.”

The two-stage version of New Glenn would be capable of flying commercial satellites and astronauts into low Earth orbit. Bezos said a three-stage New Glenn could send payloads on “demanding beyond-LEO missions.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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