Space Launch Report:   Blue Origin New Glenn
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ng2017.jpg (7067 bytes)Blue Origin New Glenn
(By Ed Kyle, 05/16/2017)

Vehicle Configurations

Vehicle Components

Launch History

New Glenn Illustration from 2017 Video, Showing Aft Strakes and Forward Fins.

Jeff Bezos, founder of, started Blue Origin in 2000.  The company became publically known six years later when it purchased land for a test site in west Texas.  During the next few years, as the secretive company developed a series of liquid rocket engines, Blue Origin's work on its BE-3 powered New Shepard suborbital tourist-carrying vehicle gradually became public as the effort progressed to its first successful flight in 2015.

Meanwhile, Blue Origin's engineers were studying designs for an orbital launch vehicle, an effort that began before 2012.   Their studies led to the decision to develop BE-4, a powerful, throttleable staged-combustion LNG/LOX engine.    

On September 15, 2015, Blue Origin announced that it would launch its new orbital rocket, at the time known as "Very Big Brother", from a rebuilt Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral.  The company also announced that it would build a production facility at Exploration Park on nearby Merritt Island, creating over 300 jobs.  Construction began at the Exploration Park factory site during 2016.  Blue Origin revealed that its new rocket would be powered by BE-4 engines, but did not say how many engines would be used.

On September 12, 2016, Blue Origin revealed more details for its launch vehicle, including its name.  The rocket, named "New Glenn", was named in honor of John Glenn, the first U.S. orbital astronaut. New Glenn would be massive.  A two-stage version would stand 82 meters tall and would be able to lift 45 tonnes to low Earth orbit or 13 tonnes to geostationary transfer orbit. The first stage would be powered by seven BE-4 engines that together would produce 1,746 tonnes of sea-level thrust. A single vacuum-optimized BE-4U engine, capable of 290 tonnes of thrust in vacuum, would power the second stage. Both stages would burn LNG/LOX.

The two-stage New Glenn, which could lift 45 tonnes to LEO or 13 tonnes to GTO, might be ready to fly in 2020.  It would fly from a new pad built at the former site of Cape Canaveral's SLC 36, which once hosted Atlas-Centaur.  The site would be augmented by the construction of an engine test facility at adjacent LC 11, a long-retired Atlas launch site.   

A three-stage New Glenn variant could fly several years after the two-stage version. The high-energy third stage would be powered by a single LH2/LOX BE-3U engine, providing substantial payload capability for deep space missions.  The three-stage variant would stand nearly 95 meters tall.

On March 7, 2017, Blue Origin revealed more information about its plans for its New Glenn rocket.  The first stage was shown for the first time with a pair of strakes near its base, along with four rotating fins on its interstage, for reentry and post-reentry maneuvering. Its center engine would restart and throttle during a landing on a sea-going vessel waiting down range. Six landing legs would extend from the base of the stage just prior to landing.

Around the same time, Blue Origin also announced that it had won contracts to launch a satellite for Eutelsat in 2021 or 2022 and to launch five OneWeb satellites that would be built across the street from the New Glenn factory on Merritt Island.     

Vehicle Configurations (Estimated)

(metric tons)
(metric tons)
(metric tons)
Configuration LIftoff
(metric tons)
(no payoad)
New Glenn 2-Stg 45 t 13 t - Stg 1 + Stg 2 + 5m PLF ~82 m ~1,450 t?
New Glenn 3-Stg - ~25+ t (est) - Stg 1 + Stg 2 + Stg 3 + 7m PLF ~95 m ~1,450 t?

Vehicle Components

Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
2-Stg Fairing 3-Stg Fairing
Diameter (m) 7 m 7 m 7 m 5.1 m 7 m
Length (m) ~54m incl interstage (est) ~19 incl engine (est) ~13 m (est) ~14.8 m (est) ~15 m (est)
Empty Mass (tonnes) ~119 t (est) ~27 t (est) ~6 t (est) - -
Propellant Mass (tonnes) ~1,002 t (est) ~254 t (est) ~49 t (est) - -
Total Mass (tonnes) ~1,116 t (est) ~281 t (est) ~55 t (est) - -
Engine BE-4 BE-4U BE-3U - -
Engine Mfgr Blue Origin Blue Origin Blue Origin - -
Fuel LNG LNG LH2 - -
Oxidizer LOX LOX LOX - -
(SL tons)
1,746 t - - - -
(Vac tons)
2,041 t 290.6 t ~50 t (est) - -
ISP (SL sec) ~310 s (est) - - - -
ISP (Vac sec) ~335 s (est) ~345 (est) ~440 s (est) - -
Burn Time (sec) ~240 s (est) ~400 s (est) ~1,000 s (est) - -
No. Engines 7 1 1 - -
Downrange Floating Platform Landing - - - -

New Glenn Launch History

 Date     Vehicle      No. Payload           Mass  Site   Orbit
NN/NN/NN  NGL          NN  NNNNN             NNN   NN NN  NNN



Blue Origin New Glenn Press Information, 2015-17