The New Glenn rocket, from Blue Origin

Blue Origin is an aerospace enterprise founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. Apart from offering manned suborbital flights to space, the company is also developing the New Glenn. The latter will be a rocket that can carry people, satellites, scientific tools and other machinery, to space.

A reusable rocket

The New Glenn is named after the NASA astronaut John Glenn, who was the first American to arrive at the Earth’s orbit, in 1962.

The rocket’s first stage is totally reusable and designed to carry out a minimum of 25 flights, requiring minimal maintenance between each flight. This enables increased access to space in many markets, and, most importantly, drastically makes cheaper the prices of taking persons or satellites to space.

As I will subsequently explain, the rocket’s first stage is able to land by itself on the Erth’s surface or on a boat, in the sea.

The New Glenn’s characteristics

This rocket manufactured by Blue Origin is very tall. The first stage on its own measures 57.5 meters. The rocket has a total height of 96 meters.

The New Glenn’s first stage is propelled by 7 Be-4 engines, designed and manufactured by Blue Origin, which work with liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas. At sea level, they produce a thrust of 17,100 kN (kilonewtons).

According to Blue Origin, the New Glenn will be capable of carrying 45 metric tonnes of material to the Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and 13 metric tonnes to a geostationary transfer orbit.

The flight phases

The New Glenn will take off from the launch complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, the principal space activities centre of the United States. When the rocket reaches a certain height, the first stage separates, and the engines of the second stage are activated. This stage is the one that has to take the cargo to the terrestrial orbit.

Then, the first stage flies back to the Earth and lands on a platform over the sea.

Meanwhile, the fairing (the part that protects the cargo) separates, and, shortly after, the second stage releases the cargo (such as a satellite) to the desired orbit. It is at this moment that the mission is considered completed.

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