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Blue Origin’s New Glenn Rocket Aces Wind Tunnel Tests

Sep 28, 2016 05:05 AM EDT
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Jeff Bezos shared the first images of the New Glenn rocket acing wind tunnel tests.

Bezos, founder of commercial space flight company Blue Origin, took to Twitter to show off the company's newest megarocket in different configurations hours after Elon Musk of the rival space company SpaceX posted images of its Mars Colonial Transporter rocket engine.

"Exciting results from 3 weeks of wind tunnel testing of #NewGlenn at transonic and supersonic speeds. Validated our CFD (computational fluid dynamics)," Bezos said in a Twitter post last Monday.

A few weeks ago, Bezos unveiled the design of the new rocket, which was named after NASA astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. New Glenn will be taller and more powerful than SpaceX's Falcon 9, with a stage-2 rocket that measures 23 feet in diameter and 270 feet in height and a thrust of 3.85 million pounds. It will also have an even bigger stage-3, which will stand 313 feet tall.

Blue Origin will also refurbish and re-fly the New Glenn rocket, the same direction Musk had taken with the Falcon 9 rocket. According to the company, New Glenn will have a booster capable of vertical landings, which will enable Blue Origin to reuse the rocket's first stage for satellite and crewed spacecraft launches.

The company is developing two versions of the New Glenn and both will have a first stage powered by seven methane-burning BE-4 engines, which the company also plans to sell to United Launch Alliance for its new Vulcan rocket.

Both Blue Origin and SpaceX are hoping to one day take humans into space, although they have different strategies in doing so. While Blue Origin is developing technologies to enable people to "live and work in space," SpaceX is all about colonizing Mars.

New Glenn is scheduled to fly by the end of the decade from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Blue Origin is working on its new project--the New Armstrong--the rocket that will take humans to Mars.

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