A space transportation company operated by Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos has taken another important step in his quest to become a recognized civil and national security rocket ship in the United States.
On Wednesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration designated the Federation of Blue Origin LLC’s new Glenn launcher – a 310-foot, reusable launcher that is not expected to make its maiden flight until 2021 – as one of the potential science launchers by the end of this decade.
The agency said that no specific contract had been awarded to Blue Origin, but the announcement makes the neighbouring company eligible for this type of NASA activity for the first time. Under the agreement concluded by the company almost 20 years ago, Mr Bezos used the New Glenn, which is about six storeys higher than its competitors’ rockets. Several NASA centers will be able to design spacecraft to take advantage of New Glenn’s performance and other features, including the ability to carry larger payloads than other rockets.
The statement says Blue Origin: We are proud to be included in NASA’s catalogue of launch services and look forward to reliable launches for NASA in the years to come.
Other heavy missiles already approved for NASA science launches include those designed by
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and the joint venture between
Lockheed Martin Corp.
Until the last years occupied M.Bezos: a haze of mystery around the Blue Origin.
New Glenn, which receives development funding from the Pentagon, also competes for national security projects. And Blue Origin has already signed a number of commercial satellite operators as customers.
Until the last few years, Mr Bezos kept Blue Origin a secret, dodged publicity, personally invested approximately $1 billion in the company for several years and refused to talk about the test launches of his smallest New Shepard launcher before it exploded for the first time in 2015.
In addition to the transport satellites, Blue Origin tests the tourist equipment in space at suborbital attractions.
But as the company grew and the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture agreed to buy Blue Origin’s engines to launch the next generation of boosters for the Pentagon’s contracts, Bezos and his team were planning.
In an interview in 2019, the CEO
said the company’s strategy is largely based on winning lucrative military and other government business for its mega rocket. We need these customers, he said.
Since then, Blue Origin has managed to establish itself as one of three teams developing lunar landing equipment for the transportation of NASA astronauts.
Blue Origin has built an assembly facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where it plans to build, maintain and launch a fleet of New Glenn boosters. With an investment estimated by industry experts at $2.5 billion, New Glenn should carry up to 45 tons in low Earth orbit, a third more than SpaceX’s current largest rocket, the Falcon Heavy.
Email Andy Pashtor at [email protected].
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Published in the printed edition of 17. December 2020: NASA gives the green light for the Bezos rocket.
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