Jeff Bezos unveils mammoth future orbital rocket -- the New Glenn

By Allen Cone  |  Updated Sept. 13, 2016 at 8:03 AM
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KENT, Wash., Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled plans Monday for a rocket he says will be capable of launching people into orbit around the Earth and beyond "before the end of the decade."

The New Glenn rocket is named after John Glenn, the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth in 1962, the company announced. It is be 23 feet in diameter and range between 270 and 313 feet tall -- almost as big as the 363-foot Apollo Saturn V moon era rockets.

The shorter one-stage rocket would be able to send satellites and people into lower Earth orbit and the two-stage rocket could take payloads beyond the Earth orbit. Both rockets will be reusable.

New Glenn will be built at Blue Origin's future manufacturing facility. The plan is to fly the rocket "before the end of this decade from historic Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, Fla.," Bezos said in an email to Blue Origin subscribers.

Launched from the site were Atlas rockets, satellites and space probes Pioneer, Surveyor and Mariner between 1961 and 2005.

The rocket will be powered by seven BE-4 engines with 3.85 million pounds of thrust at sea level, the company said.

Blue Origin has been launching a New Shepard rocket that is 65 feet high and capable of getting just past the edge of space, about 60 miles up. Next month, Blue Origin plans a test of the rocket named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space in 1961.

Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, says his next venture will be named after Neil Armstrong, who became the first man to walk on the moon in 1969.

"Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that's a story for the future," he wrote.

NASA's Space Shuttle program ended in 2011 after launching {link:135 manned flights. : "" target="_blank"}

Last Thursday, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, performed the first test flight of its new spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, above the Mojave Desert in California as it prepares to take paying customers into space.

On Sept. 1, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket ignited while on a Cape Canaveral launch pad and blew up in a spectacular fireball.

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