Bezos kick-starts new space race as Blue Origin goes big

13 Sep 2016

The Blue Origin New Shepherd was, until now, the poster child of the Jeff Bezos-owned company. Image via Blue Origin

Glenn, the vast new spacecraft range announced by Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin could prove a game-changer. Could SpaceX finally have a serious challenger?

SpaceX has dominated the commercial aerospace industry for quite a while now, with its many highs and perhaps even more numerous lows now a thing of regular coverage across various media.

From trying, failing and trying again until a rocket could be successfully landed back down to Earth, right through to disastrous explosions ruining Facebook’s internet-spreading plans, Elon Musk’s company is box office.

Future Human

But that could all change pretty soon.

Blue Origin

Meet Glenn

Jeff Bezos has announced plans to build some of the largest spacecraft we’ve seen in quite some time.

Named after John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, two new rockets, grand in size, will be launched within the next three or four years.

Almost as big as the Saturn V – the last rockets NASA used before a general reduction in size was initiated across the board – these designs could pave the way for large-scale space tourism.

The two-stage version New Glenn (which could venture to low-Earth orbit) will be 270ft high, while the three-stage version New Glenn (which is destined to fly outside Earth’s orbit) will be 313ft high.

Both will be 23ft in diameter, equipped with several BE-4 Blue Origin-developed engines and lifting off with 3.85m pounds of thrust.

“Our vision is millions of people living and working in space, and New Glenn is a very important step,” said Bezos.

Me, me, me

Bezos’ Blue Origin is perhaps best known for its New Shepherd rocket, which landed safely back down to Earth back in late 2015.

A major achievement, the fall-out saw Musk get involved in a mine-is-bigger-than-yours Twitter exchange with Bezos, though the latter had little to do with it.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic