Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by tech billionaire Jeff Bezos, announced Monday a new family of heavy boosters capable of putting manned and heavy cargo payloads into earth orbit and beyond. Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, said there will be both two- and three-stage versions of the booster and that one version will be capable of landing for reuse.
The new rocket family is to be called New Glenn, after pioneering Mercury astronaut John Glenn, and is expected to fly by the end of the decade.Both the New Glenn 2 and New Glenn 3 would be powered by a cluster of seven liquid-natural-gas-fueled BE-4 engines with a liquid oxygen oxidizer. These are being developed by the same Kent, Washington, company that’s building engines for the United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan booster, also a reusable design.
In an email, Bezos said the two-stage New Glenn will be 270 feet long while the three-stage version will be 313 feet long. The system will be capable of 3.85 million pounds of thrust, a little more than half of the thrust the Saturn V system that launched Apollo astronauts to the moon had.