This month has been an interesting one for the space tourism race. There’s SpaceX’s mishap and Virgin Galactic’s second chance…and now Blue Origin has made an important announcement of its own. Following the successful New Shepard launches and landings, Bezos has just unveiled a new line of orbital rockets for his private space company: the New Glenn.
And man, they are big.
“Our vision is millions of people living and working in space, and New Glenn is a very important step,” Jeff Bezos wrote in a newsletter announcement.
The New Glenn rockets have a two-stage and a three-stage variants, both powered by seven BE-4 engines. These rockets would have about 1.6 million kilograms (about 3.85 million pounds) of thrust at sea level. The three-stage variant is almost as tall as the Saturn V rocket that brought the Apollo astronauts to the moon.
Aware of his competitors success and failures, Bezos is keen to set Blue Origin at the forefront of the space tourism race. “We believe ‘slow is smooth and smooth is fast.’ In the long run, deliberate and methodical wins the day, and you do things quickest by never skipping steps,” he wrote, referring to his company’s tortoise mascot and motto Gradatim Ferociter — “Gradually, Ferociously” in Latin.
The heavy New Glenn rocket follows this motto. Similar to its reusable predecessor, the New Glenn would be boosted into space by its first stage, which will then fly back to the Earth for a soft landing. Ultimately, the focus on reusing rockets will help significantly lower the cost of space travel.
And Blue Origin has even more in store, according to Bezos. “Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that’s a story for the future.” And we can’t wait.