Might beat Blue Origin SpaceX

Space travel: Blue Origin's New Glenn set to beat SpaceX

Michael Mercenary

The US space company Blue Origin does not want to leave private space travel to SpaceX alone.

EnlargeNew Glenn is supposed to compete with SpaceX.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos declares war on the competitor with his rocket called New Glenn: The two-stage version of the reusable rocket should be able to bring around 13 tons of payload into geostationary orbits. In low earth orbit, it can lift 45 tons into space.

This exceeds the performance of the disposable rockets Vulcan and Ariane 6. Blue Origin is even considering a third stage with hydrogen propulsion, which would increase the payload by another 50 percent. The first rocket stage is also equipped with stub wings that slow down the fall to earth and make braking maneuvers with rocket engines superfluous.

As with SpaceX's competitor, New Glenn should be able to land on a ship after sinking to Earth. While Elon Musk's space company relies on expensive kerosene for propulsion, Blue Origin uses methane. Stage 1 of the rocket has seven BE-4 engines, while Stage 2 is optimized for use in vacuum. Blue Origin also wants to save fuel by reusing exhaust gases, which are again involved in the combustion via pumps.

However, this complex reuse has already caused problems in the past: One of the Blue Origin engines exploded on the test stand. The newly developed BE-4 engine will be used in a Vulcan rocket for the first time in 2019. The launch vehicle developed by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) is intended to replace Delta IV and Atlas V missiles.

Blue Origin also outperforms its competitor SpaceX in terms of reusability - at least on paper: While the Falcon 9 can only be used ten times, New Glenn should survive a full 100 flights. Blue Origin has already won its first customers with Eutelsat and Oneweb.

Blue Origin plans to take tourists into space starting in 2018