Blue Origin Unveils 'New Glenn,' the Monster Rocket to Rival SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Sep 13, 2016 05:46 AM EDT

Blue Origin has just revealed its new reusable rocket that would compete against SpaceX's Falcon 9.

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, who also founded Amazon, announced that the new rocket named New Glenn. It wiill stand 270 feet tall and will have 3.85 million pounds of thrust. It will also have an even bigger 3-stage version, which will stand 313 feet tall.

New Glenn was named after NASA astronaut John Glenn, who was also the first American to orbit the Earth. The rocket will be taller and more powerful than SpaceX's Falcon 9, which measures 230 feet tall and has a thrust of 1.7 million pounds.

"New Glenn is designed to launch commercial satellites and to fly humans into space," Bezos told Reuters.

Blue Origin intends to refurbish and re-fly the New Glenn rocket, the same direction Elon Musk had taken with his Falcon 9 rocket. New Glenn will have a booster capable of vertical landings, which will enable Blue Origin to reuse the first stage of the rocket to be used for satellite launches and manned spacecrafts.

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Two versions of the New Glenn are being developed and both will use a first stage powered by seven methane-burning BE-4 engines, which the company also intends to sell to United Launch Alliance (ULA) for its new Vulcan rocket.

The company is currently building a launch site and test facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, as well as a rocket manufacturing plant at the Kennedy Space Center.

"We plan to fly New Glenn for the first time before the end of this decade from historic Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, Florida," Bezos told Popular Mechanics. "The 3-stage variant -- with its high specific impulse hydrogen upper stage -- is capable of flying demanding beyond-LEO missions."

Blue Origin has been testing a smaller, reusable rocket and spacecraft called New Shepard, a space tourism project that will ferry paying passengers up at an altitude of about 62 miles to experience microgravity and view the Earth from space.

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