After remaining tight-lipped about its upcoming project, Blue Origin has unveiled its’ New Glenn rocket to the public, with it expected to soar into the skies for the first time in 2019. Named after the first American astronaut to orbit Earth, John Glenn, New Glenn is currently the biggest and most powerful rocket on the market. Standing at and impressive 82 meters (269 feet) tall, Blue Origin’s design would see it lift up to 45 tons into low-Earth orbit, and 13 tons to geostationary orbit.
Even though the New Glenn booster will be the largest rocket on the market, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has promised that his company will be designing even larger rockets in the future. Despite only being unveiled very recently, the booster already has its first customer, with communications satellite giant Eutelsat slated to be use it for a geostationary satellite launch, presumably in 2019.
When New Glenn blasts off, the space industry is likely to take a very keen interest in how it performs. Like its competitor SpaceX, Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket be fully reusable, with their engineers and designers confident it can be reused up to 100 times. That promise, coupled with the sheer size of the payload it is meant to deliver will be a first in terms of launches, and will definitely be bound for the history books should it succeed.
Although it is currently the only space company to show off its’ newest heavy-lift booster technology, it is known that both SpaceX and NASA are also working on their own respective designs. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is expected to match Blue Origin’s capacity (53 tons), whilst NASA’s Space Launch System has been rumoured to be aiming for a 70 ton baseline, but will not be reusable.
Once these two companies are able to produce these rockets, the era of heavy-lift rockets will be underway, and will not only lead to the launch of larger satellites, but could also help pave the way for future space exploration. NASA and Blue Origin have both expressed an interest in using their latest rockets for lunar exploration, with the former optimistic it can arrange a Mars mission as well.