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Blue Origin Announces Rocket for Orbital Launches

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ThirstyBarbarian

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Here's an article about a new rocket being developed by Blue Origin. It's expected to be much larger that Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket --- in fact, it is much larger than many rockets flying today. It's designed to send satellites and crew to orbit, with a 3-stage version that can send payloads beyond earth orbit. The first stage is designed to land and be recovered, like the New Shepard suborbital rocket or the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage. The article talks about the overall size of the rocket and the types and number of engines for each stage, but it doesn't get into key performance data, like payload to LEO. They say they expect it to fly by the end of the decade.

http://www.space.com/34034-blue-origin-new-glenn-rocket-for-satellites-people.html
 

Peartree

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I saw that this morning and my first thought was that "the end of the decade" is still an awfully short timeline for such a major new project. Having more, and different options to get to orbit is always a good thing. Time will tell.
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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I saw that this morning and my first thought was that "the end of the decade" is still an awfully short timeline for such a major new project. Having more, and different options to get to orbit is always a good thing. Time will tell.
Agreed. "End of the Decade" makes it sound further off than it really is, so if I were Blue Origin and trying to create some excitement, I would have said something more like "within the next three or four years." But maybe this rocket really is a bit further away than that, and as you said, time will tell. The announcement really is very short of details, so it's hard to say what real engineering progress has been made on this project, or if it is nothing more than an "Artists Concept" at this point.
 

boatgeek

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I saw that this morning and my first thought was that "the end of the decade" is still an awfully short timeline for such a major new project. Having more, and different options to get to orbit is always a good thing. Time will tell.
I guess one obvious way to answer this is to ask whether Blue Origin's facilities at the Cape are on schedule to be ready by 2020 or so. You pay for speed in construction, so if the construction crews are going gangbusters, then they might be ready to build a rocket by then. They've been working on the engine for ULA for a while, at least a couple of years. They also are much more of a black box than many other companies--they don't tell you what they're doing until very close to the time it flies. One wonders if they've already done some engine testing at their Texas facility. One last question: does geostationary transfer orbit count as "low earth orbit" per the article? Maybe George or someone else can shed some light here.

Interesting things to note: It looks like the lower energy density by volume of LNG is pushing them to a bigger rocket by overall size as compared to the Falcon Heavy or Delta IV. I've also gotta believe they are planning on return to launch site with those small legs. They wouldn't stabilize a rocket stage that size on a barge. Finally, I would assume that the New Glenn 2-stage price point to LEO/GTO is comparable to Falcon 9, since I don't think that Bezos would go into a market where he is not price-competitive.

This has to give long-term planners at ULA the heebie-jeebies. Right now, Falcon undercuts them dramatically on price for small to medium size satellites. I'll grant that Falcon's reliability may be an issue depending on what comes of the latest incident investigation. Other than that, their only arguments for staying in the satellite launch business is heavy satellite capability (soon to be in competition with Falcon Heavy) and needing two competitors in the launch business so that if one has an issue, the other can still supply the market. That goes away when New Glenn 2-stage shows up. How does ULA justify their prices at that point? For a while, they can maintain based on the Delta IV-Falcon Heavy duopoly, but what about when New Glenn 3-stage arrives?
 

boatgeek

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Sorry, I was asking the wrong question. The original article says that the 2-stage unit will go to low earth orbit. I meant to ask if "low earth orbit" in this context means that they can do GTO as well with the same vehicle. I know the orbits are different, and per F9 capability data, the same launch vehicle carries less stuff to GTO than a typical LEO (polar, equatorial, whatever).
 

rstaff3

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Without reading about the new rocket, the answer would be 'yes' but, like you noted one the F9, the weight to orbit would be reduced.
 
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