The New Glenn match versus BFR could happen
– News of May 1, 2018 –
The New Glenn orbital rocket is expected to debut in 2020. But it will probably takes a few more years before it reaches cruising speed. On paper, the New Glenn is an impressive rocket. Reusable, it could be very competitive if it meets the schedule. Because if the rocket accumulates too much delay, it will not fight against the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, but against the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) of SpaceX.
Picture by Kevin Gill from Los Angeles, CA, United States (Blue Origins New Glenn Launch) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Blue Origin tests the engine that will equip the New Glenn launcher
– News of October 24, 2017 –
Blue Origin, the company of the founder of Amazon, continues the design of the New Glenn heavy launcher. A test was held last week of the BE-4 engine that will equip the new reusable launcher. The first floor of the New Glenn will be equipped with seven engines. Blue Origin’s new engine burns methane and liquid oxygen. The enormous power of this engine will allow the New Glenn to put 45 tons of payload in low orbit. A second version equipped with a third floor will specifically target the geostationary orbit with a capacity of 13 tons. In both cases, only the first floor of the rocket will be reusable. But Blue Origin announces that every first floor can be reused up to 100 times. In addition, the BE-4 engine will also be used outside of Blue Origin. Indeed, the manufacturer ULA has chosen to equip with this engine its new Vulcan launcher that will replace the Atlas rocket.
In this end of the year, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is expected to send 30 tons in low orbit in a reusable configuration. The ULA Vulcan is scheduled for 2019 with 29 tons of low-orbit capacity. Only the engines of the rocket will be reusable and it certainly will not offer the same price as SpaceX or Blue Origin, but ULA can count on strong partnerships with the US Army and NASA.
The first flight of the New Glenn is planned in 2020. Knowing that the SLS will fulfill some of the needs of NASA, customers looking for a heavy launcher will have the choice. Blue Origin could be the only serious competitor at SpaceX. But Jeff Bezos’ company has yet to make progress : control over reuse has been long at SpaceX, so the timing of Blue Origin could change.Sources