avatarby Nick HallSeptember 15, 20160 comments

Elon Musk’s endless issues with SpaceX clearly hasn’t dissuaded Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin company has now revealed its New Glenn rocket that can deliver payloads into space and orbit the Earth.

Named after John Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth, New Glenn is much bigger than SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and the United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy. With a diameter of 23 feet and a height of between 270-313 feet, this is a monster of a rocket.

Orbit and beyond

The height depends on where the rocket is aiming for. If the company wants to send payloads into Lower Earth Orbit then it only needs one top stage, but with a second stage it can go further

Power comes from seven BE-4s, the engine that the company is building and hopes to sell to other fledgling aerospace industries. That includes the United Launch Alliance, which is working on the next generation Vulcan.

Currently the BE-4s provide a combined 3.85 million pounds of thrust, which is much less than SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. Elon Musk’s outfit is currently pushing out close to 5 million pounds of thrust, but the United Launch Alliance can only muster 2 million pounds from the Delta IV Heavy and looks like it could use Blue Origin’s help.

It’s not green, but it is recyclable

It is also reusable, partially, as the first stage of the rocket can land after the launch. That sounds simple, but it involves some pretty intense science as getting any part of a rocket back from orbital space is an ambitious project indeed.

Bezos’s aerospace company is building a facility at Cape Canaveral to drive this project and several more. One, intriguingly, is called New Armstrong. That can only involve a lunar landing, so even though Bezos states firmly that it’s a long way off, we’ll be keeping our ears to the ground.

Could this be the ultimate billionaire bragging rights argument?

This does feel like it could turn into the ultimate bragging rights discussion between billionaires. No longer satisfied with whose car is the fastest, they have turned to the outer reaches of space to satisfy their need to be the fastest, strongest and tallest.

Then again, Bezos and Musk tend to change the world in a major way when they take on a new project, so if they are determined to revolutionize the industry then it could be good news for the rest of us.

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