The space race is on, and it’s taking place in the private sector. Forget the United States and Russia — it’s really Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk who are competing for dominance off the planet. And now, Bezos has made the latest move, introducing the New Glenn, the future rocket of Blue Origin.
Boasting the capacity to send both payloads and people into the beyond (that is to say, outer space), the New Glenn takes its name from famed astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. And as per newly unveiled images of the New Glenn, this space ship is going to be nothing shy of a monster.
Appearing to be the biggest rocket since the Saturn V, which NASA used several decades ago in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the New Glenn will reportedly measure 23 feet in diameter and range between 270 and 313 feet high. The discrepancy is dependent upon whether the rocket has one or two upper stages atop it — should there be only one, the New Glenn would be capable only of reaching lower Earth orbit. With both upper stages, however, people and satellites can go considerably further.
It’s quite the statement for Blue Origin, which was the first private company to send a rocket into space and successfully recover it on Earth in a vertical landing (though technically, it didn’t go that far into space — just 100 kilometers above Earth’s surface). Since then, however, most space headlines have involved SpaceX and Elon Musk’s impressive achievements beyond our planet. But the latest rocket from Bezos is looking to shake things up.
The New Glenn will far surpass its predecessor’s achievements, though it still doesn’t necessarily have the thrust to go as far as, say, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. Whereas Blue Origin’s new rocket will have about 3.85 million pounds of thrust, the impending Falcon Heavy (though smaller than the New Glenn) will boast around 5 million pounds of thrust.
“Our vision is millions of people living and working in space, and New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course,” Bezos wrote in an email announcing the rocket. “Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that’s a story for the future.”