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Complete New Glenn test prototype now vertical on launchpad

New Glenn test vehicle on launchpad

For the first time, after more than a decade of development, a complete two-stage New Glenn test vehicle is now vertical on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, ready for launchpad tests in preparation for what Blue Origin hopes will be a first launch later this year.

The journey to the pad began in December when New Glenn’s first-stage modules were transported from our factory to the Integration Facility nine miles away. The tests will conclude in the coming weeks following several demonstrations of cryogenic fluid loading, pressure control, and the vehicle’s venting systems. Our launch pad and ground systems are complete and will be activated for the first time during the test campaign.

If successful, New Glenn would be somewhat competitive with Falcon Heavy, and would give the U.S. a third company, after ULA, capable of competing directly with SpaceX. This of course assumes Blue Origin doesn’t buy ULA, which has been rumored.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • David Eastman

    Word is that Bezos has lost patience, has lit a fire under BO management, and has threatened that heads will roll if they don’t make the goal of first launch this summer. It will be very interesting to see what happens, I don’t see how they can possibly do that at this point, or if they do, it’s going to be by cutting a LOT of corners.

  • Jeff Wright

    Go fever at last.

    This LV looks to have roomy fairings

  • geoffc

    @jeff wright – 7m wide fairing I think. (F9 is 3, Atlas/Delta/Vulcan can be as wide as 5, Starship is 9m wide)

    Bob – no engines installed at the moment, so a teensy bit short of complete New Glenn, but you meant structurally, which makes sense.

  • Gealon

    Bezos is lighting fires and wants to launch in the summer eh? Hold up there guy, that’s a nice rocket company you almost have there. Would be a shame if something happened to it.

    I wonder if BO will get the same slow walking and delays by the government, as has been happening to SpaceX. Or does he get a pass because he leans Left?

  • Gealon: Bezos gets a pass, yes, because he sends bribes (donations) to lefty organizations. At the same time, he is launching from Kennedy, where such things have been routine for almost 3/4 of a century. That doesn’t generate the same fear in the left.

  • Mitch S.

    I’ve been wondering if Bezos has had his eye on ULA to get Tony Bruno and other management.
    If BO hadn’t been slow with the engines Vulcan would have launched a while ago.
    As things are, if New Glenn gets going it will be an awkward competition between BO and ULA since ULA depends on BO for engines.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I do hope for success. Competition is a good thing.
    That being said, it will probably still be a while before this reaches a cadence that starts to impact the market.
    The same for Neutron, if it gets to the pad this year as planned.

  • David Eastman

    Bob said: “At the same time, he is launching from Kennedy, where such things have been routine for almost 3/4 of a century. That doesn’t generate the same fear in the left.”

    You keep saying that SpaceX would have better luck and faster access at the cape. The evidence provides no support for this. SpaceX’s plans to expand to LC-49 are apparently in a multi-year environmental review and all plans there are on hold. They are also looking into taking over SLC-37 from ULA, which is an existing, in service complex for a heavy launcher using huge amounts of hydrogen, but nonetheless the initial environmental review for a proposal to convert that complex to Super Heavy usage is reported as “at least a year.”

    Of course, ULA had no issues getting a launch license on time for the maiden launch of Vulcan, even though that’s a heavy rocket using methalox which has been cited as one of the reasons for such heavy scrutiny of Superheavy. I will wager large amounts that we will not be reading articles about their next flight having permitting issues either, nor will there be any delays for Blue Origin’s even larger methalox rocket from a new complex…

  • David Eastman wrote, “You keep saying that SpaceX would have better luck and faster access at the cape.”

    I do not “keep saying that.” All I have done is noted the differences between the Cape and Boca Chica. The red-tape situation for SpaceX at Boca Chica is bad, while the red-tape at the Cape appears less problematic. At the same time I have also noted at length that the situation at the Cape is not great either, describing repeatedly NASA’s actions to block Starship/Superheavy launches there.

    NASA however might actually be rational about its position. It has simply demanded that SpaceX provide a back-up launchpad for manned missions, since the one it uses now is very close to the new Starship/Superheavy launchpad. SpaceX is creating that backup pad, and we should expect NASA objections to fade once that second manned pad becomes operational.

    Nonetheless, I agree with you. Both ULA and Blue Origin appear to be facing a less hostile bureaucracy, which underlines the war that the Biden administration and its minions in that bureaucracy is raging against Elon Musk. Biden is definitely playing favorites, favoring those who bribed Democrats with the most campaign donations.

  • Edward

    Mitch S. wrote: “I’ve been wondering if Bezos has had his eye on ULA to get Tony Bruno and other management.

    I’m not sure that Bezos is excited about ULA management. The last guy he hired from ULA had to be fired. He had slowed things down to a crawl, and he was the one in charge during the BE-4 manufacturing fiasco. In addition, ULA chose not to go the route of reusable first stages, as Bezos has, but to only reuse the engine compartments. These may be the costly part of the booster, but the rest of the vehicle still has to be made for each launch.

    Each corporation has its own corporate culture. ULA’s is doing things methodically and with care so that its reputation for a perfect flight record does not get tarnished, Or rather, more tarnished. Bezos needs things to go faster than ULA does things. The delays it has had these past eight years have been killer.

    New Shepard, SpaceShipTwo, and Falcon 9 are able to launch frequently, because they are reusable, or at least the Falcon 9 booster and fairings are. This allows them not only cheaper flights but more frequent flights. Bezos needs to keep up the pace, and buying ULA may be counterproductive. Many people have said that Blue Origin and ULA could be a good match, but I am not so sure.

    As things are, if New Glenn gets going it will be an awkward competition between BO and ULA since ULA depends on BO for engines.

    Competitors have often worked in cooperation in the past. It doesn’t get too awkward. However, it will be necessary for Blue to ramp up production, because it is bad for them to not serve their customer before serving themselves. That would be awkward.

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