Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos outlined the unique features and capabilities of his company’s New Glenn orbital rocket today at a satellite developer’s conference, including an animation depicting its launch and the return of its first stage on a boat in the ocean.
Intended to simulate the path of an actual mission, the animation showed the New Glenn, powered by seven of the company’s BE-4 engines, launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida and separate, with the first stage heading back to Earth while the second stage carries a satellite into orbit.
Visible in the foreground of the animation is the company’s manufacturing facility at Cape Canaveral, currently under construction.
Blue Origin has been working on developing reusable rockets for several years now. Its New Shepard vehicle, which will someday bring tourists to the edge of space, has already conducted several successful first stage returns.
New Glenn’s first stage uses attached fins on the rocket’s sides to steer it back to Earth. It has six landing legs but will be able to land correctly even if one of those legs is out of commission.
The rocket will be capable of carrying almost 100,000 pounds of payload into low-Earth orbit and almost 29,000 pounds to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), which is 22,000 miles higher.
According to some reporters at the conference, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will be able to carry even heavier payloads, both to low-Earth orbit and to GTO.
Bezos announced that about a year after New Glenn’s first flight, scheduled for 2020, it will launch a satellite for its first customer, the French-based satellite operator Eutelsat.
“Eutelsat has launched satellites on many new vehicles and shares both our methodical approach to engineering and our passion for driving down the cost of access to space,” Bezos said.
In addition to launching satellites, the New Glenn will also carry humans into orbit, he added.