Blue Origin Plans to Get Into the Orbital Launch Game in 2021

The Blue Origin New Glenn Rocket will be a Falcon Heavy class vehicle with a reusable first stage.

There are six New Glenn launches scheduled for 2021.

In October 2018, the Air Force announced Blue Origin was awarded $500 million for development of New Glenn as a potential competitor in future contracts, including EELV Phase 2.

By February 2019, multiple launches for New Glenn had been contracted: five for OneWeb, an unspecified amount of Telesat, one each for Eutelsat, mu Space Corp and SKY Perfect JSAT.

50 thoughts on “Blue Origin Plans to Get Into the Orbital Launch Game in 2021”

  1. At the time Space X got its first NASA contract The falcon 9 just finished development and Space X had few customers.

    Today SpaceX makes most of its money launching satellites from paying privet companies. US government contracts are today only a small portion of their revenue

  2. And the Falcon 9 is well painted in white, so every material has different needs an characteristics. Obviously the New Glenn is not build in stainless steel.

  3. Note that the Starship is unpainted stainless. Unless the parent material needs protection from the weather, painting a rocket is an unnecessary waste of precious weight.

  4. “And sadly we are not capable of building such space station yet. During the 2020s the demand for rocket launches won’t be much different than today’s.”
    Um, if the rockets are cheap, we ARE then capable, as the steps to ISRU are now easier and bigger. Why not start?

  5. “I don’t think people travel into space from a deep gravity well to experience artificial gravity in space. They want to experience microgravity and to view the Earth from space.” You have the choice in orbit, even in a rotating hab, at the *poles*. You do not on a planet, which includes Moon for these purposes.

  6. “They’ll only beat SpaceX to things SpaceX isn’t trying to do.” Exactly! See O’Neill for details, such as Bezos’ focus on the Moon.

  7. Some people consider worrying about things that can be accomplished within one’s lifetime as being too small a project to be worthwhile. See O’Neill for a plan that IS worthwhile.

  8. They’re not really going to waste hundreds of pounds of potential payload painting a feather on the side of the rocket, are they? Please, tell me they’re not going to do something that stupid.

  9. slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

    That sounds a lot cooler in a movie than it does in real life.

    For every time someone manages to improve and become great by slowing down, there are thousands of people who never just got fast enough in the first place.

    Those people who do become super fast by slowing down have usually put in years, if not decades, of plain hard going as fast as they could to develop the groundwork that their later “counter-intuitive” system can build on.

  10. Jeff Bezos is also getting old, as Elon Musk and everyone else.

    He really needs to upend his game to see the fruits of his labor while he still lives (and cares).

  11. Yep. The role of NASA and their COTS programs can’t be underestimated.

    The fact that NASA had kept such plans is the fruit of many years of lobbying and convincing by people we have almost forgotten nowadays.

  12. You really need to read the book. SpaceX is his vocation, but Tesla is his real business.

    Yes, he would have sold his other companies: SpaceX. He was about to sell SpaceX to save Tesla. He had no other companies, he had sold PayPal long ago, in 2002, when he founded SpaceX.

    If you read the book you’ll see how desperate was that last minute save from NASA. If it wasn’t for NASA, SpaceX would have disappeared to keep Tesla alive, way before they had time to develop the reusable rockets that now amazes us all.

    This is not speculation from the author of the book, this is what Elon Musk tells him on their interview.

  13. No, SpaceX wouldn’t have adapted, SpaceX was done. This is a fact explained by Musk himself in the book “Elon Musk” by Ashlee Vance.

    At Christmas’2008 he had to chose to either keep alive Tesla or to keep alive SpaceX with the little money he had left, and he chose Tesla. He has shared many times how he cried when NASA saved them at the very last moment with a $1.6B contract.

    Google for Arstechnica’s article : “Without NASA there would be no SpaceX and its brilliant boat landing”, or directly go read Musk’s words in Vance’s book.

  14. Even if only 1% of the super wealthy decided to travel into space every year, that would require more than 100 commercial launches per year. Half that number would still require more than more than 50 commercial launches per year.

    I don’t think people travel into space from a deep gravity well to experience artificial gravity in space. They want to experience microgravity and to view the Earth from space.

    This should give the SLS and the New Glenn a huge advantage since they could easily deploy large and spacious microgravity habitats into orbit with a single launch. The SLS could deploy habitats derived from SLS propellant tank technology (8.4 meters in diameter) or deploy habitats as large as 12 meters in diameter. The SLS could deploy two or three large commercial habitats into orbit with a single launch.

    The New Glenn should be able to deploy large habitats derived from the New Glenn propellant tank technology that are 7 meters in diameter or the 8.4 meter in diameter habitats derived from SLS propellant tank technology.

    I’d enhance the experience for tourist by deploying Flexcraft single person vehicles that can allow tourist to conveniently leave the space stations to view the Earth and the space environment.

  15. These launches are so speculative that they aren’t even on any schedule yet. NG was supposed to launch in 2020, most of the payloads listed above were supposed to launch in 2020. Not sure Mu Space-1 or SKY Perfect JSAT even have satellites to launch.

    Interestingly, Telesat LEO is choosing NG for the huge payload to LEO for their new broadband access satellite plan. Not sure if they mean NG has a large payload capacity to launch lots of small satellites, or if Telesat plans on much bigger sats in LEO (though the curvature of the Earth would hurt performance). It wasn’t clear in the news release from 31 January this year.

    It also wasn’t clear if BO plans on 1 or 2 NGs to fill this schedule, or 6 NGs to lift this schedule because BO doesn’t know how to turn around an orbital class booster…yet.

  16. I didn’t mean it in a pejorative way. The government has a legitimate interest in having more than one launch provider, and BO will be way better than ULA.

    But government business will be thin pickings compared to the massive commercial expansion that SpaceX is on the verge of enabling. BO won’t get any of that business until they have full reusability, which in public at least they’re not even working on.

    Even when they do get full reusability they’ll have a hard time breaking in, because by then SpaceX will be amortizing their rocket cost over a very large number of flights.

  17. he will get there eventually but it does show the limits of money.. money helps no doubt but just throwing unlimited amounts at a problem actually can have decreasing payoff .. in other words a motivator and companys work environment can be just as important.. ie elon musk

  18. Bezos is winning on the ground, in the real world of business, so he doesn’t have to do some kind of death-defying tightrope walk like Musk. Starship better show some good progress through 2020, because 2021 could see some serious competition for Falcon.

  19. Why tarry around in Low Earth Orbit? If the Moon’s surface comes into reach, then nobody will need rotational gravity, and besides there’ll be lots more to look at over there on the ground. Billionaires might find it more prestigious to go to the Moon, than to merely go to Low Earth Orbit.

  20. yup, they live by the philosophy: slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
    I am a cheerleader for both companies, SpaceX’s way of doing things is far more exciting, but that doesn’t make Blue Origins method wrong.

  21. Blue Origin’s problem is that, with guaranteed funding, they’re not feeling any urgency. They’re marching where SpaceX is doing an all out sprint.

    Now, as long as Bezos is funding them and keeping them on task, they’ll get there eventually. But, they’re not going to get ANYWHERE first.

    And while they methodically do everything step by step, SpaceX is trying stuff, making mistakes, learning from them. So SpaceX is always going to be on a steeper learning curve.

    I don’t see any prospect of Blue Origins catching up to SpaceX. They’ll only beat SpaceX to things SpaceX isn’t trying to do.

  22. Well, granted. But there IS some difference between a government contract you get because you’re the lowest cost supplier of something the government wanted anyway, and a government contract you get only because, though you’re not the lowest cost supplier, you do have good lobbyists.

  23. You are overestimating the sense of adventure of those billionaires. Either you put in orbit a huge station, with rotational gravity, luxury hotel rooms, casinos, etc. … or I don’t see many of them going into space.

    And sadly we are not capable of building such space station yet. During the 2020s the demand for rocket launches won’t be much different than today’s.

  24. You mean live on government contracts as SpaceX has always done ?. SpaceX will be long gone bankrupted without the contract to resupply the ISS.

  25. That’s because they operate very differently then SpaceX. They built all their facilities first, (the normal way) then build their rockets in them. Not on a dirt field where the wind can blow them over.

  26. SpaceX will likely have plenty of hiccups along the way.
    I’m rooting for both companies, they are the 2 best space companies on Earth.

  27. During the 2020s, I believe the highest launch demand will be for the deployment of propellant and water to depots located at LEO and NRHO. There should also be a high launch demand to transport super wealthy tourist (individuals worth $100 million plus) to habitats located at LEO, the Moon, and the rest of cis-lunar space. There are more than 2600 billionaires in the world and more than 50,000 people in the world worth more than $100 million. The cost per ticket should range between $20 million to $50 million.

  28. Meanwhile SpaceX is likely to have a fully-reusable vehicle by then or soon after, at a much lower price per kg payload. At that point Blue Origin will have to live on government contracts until they do the same.

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