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Blue Origin delays heavy-lift New Glenn rocket launch to 2022

This is Blue Origin's rocket factory in Florida is where the company builds the New Glenn rocket, now delayed until 2022. Photo courtesy of Blue Origin
This is Blue Origin's rocket factory in Florida is where the company builds the New Glenn rocket, now delayed until 2022. Photo courtesy of Blue Origin

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, has delayed the first launch of its big New Glenn rocket until late 2022 because, the company said, it failed to win large government contracts recently.

The company had planned to launch by this year, but lost billions of dollars in U.S. Space Force business to SpaceX and United Launch Alliance in an August decision by the government.

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"This updated maiden flight target follows the recent Space Force decision to not select New Glenn" for national security government launches, Blue Origin said in a press release Thursday.

"The Blue Origin team has been in contact with all of our customers to ensure this baseline meets their launch needs," the company said.

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Such customers as announced in the past have included communications satellite companies such as London-based OneWeb and Ottawa-based Telesat.



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Blue Origin has invested $2.5 billion in facilities near Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it develops the rocket, and in Huntsville, Ala., where the engines are made. Those engines also will be used by United Launch Alliance for its new Vulcan rocket.

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The August competition win for ULA and Elon Musk's SpaceX meant those two companies will will launch about three dozen national security missions from 2022 to 2026 -- at a price of about $1 billion per year.

New Glenn is under development to take people or payloads into orbit, and Blue Origin has plans for it to carry the company's Blue Moon lunar lander to the moon.

Blue Origin said it has built a New Glenn first-stage mockup or model, a structural test facility and tanks, stage modules and composite fairings.

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Northrop Grumman, which also lost out in the August launch contract decision, has since canceled its program for a heavy-lift rocket, the OmegA.

Out-of-this-world images from space

This composite image made from six frames shows the International Space Station, with a crew of seven aboard, in silhouette as it transits the sun at roughly 5 miles per second on April 23, 2021, as seen from Nottingham, Md. Aboard are: NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Mark Vande Hei; Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy, Pyotr Dubrov; and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Joining the crew aboard station the next day were Crew-2 mission crew members: Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

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