The new heavy-lift launcher was supposed to take its first flight later this year but that was taking into account they would get the recent NSSL contracts from the Department of Defense which ended up going to SpaceX and ULA. Now the company has revised its plan for when it will debut its new launcher.
The secretive company founded by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has only been in the news to announce new projects or tests of their space tourism centered New Shephard vehicle. Blue Origin has dipped its toes in many different parts of the space industry markets including developing engines for other providers, sub-orbital payloads for NASA, and developing a lander for Artemis’ Human Landing System.
One market they have attempting to enter for a while now is the commercial and government launch services market and compete with companies like SpaceX and ULA. Sadly they weren’t selected to launch any payloads for the DoD last year and now their commercial entry into the market is pushed back to 2022 as their New Glenn rocket, their competitor to SpaceX’s Falcon 9/Heavy and ULA’s Vulcan, gets its debut launch date pushed back.
As major progress is being made on the New Glenn launch vehicle and its Cape Canaveral facilities, the schedule has been refined to match the demand of Blue Origin’s commercial customers. The current target for New Glenn’s maiden flight is Q4 2022. The Blue Origin team has been in contact with all of our customers to ensure this baseline meets their launch needs.
This updated maiden flight target follows the recent Space Force decision to not select New Glenn for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 Launch Services Procurement (LSP).
New Glenn is proceeding to fulfill its current commercial contracts, pursue a large and growing commercial market, and enter into new civil space launch contracts. We hope to launch NSSL payloads in the future, and remain committed to serving the U.S. national defense mission.
Recent milestones include completion of a New Glenn first stage mockup simulator, completion of a structural test facility, and hardware milestones for tanks, stage modules, and composite fairings.
In addition to program progress, more than 600 jobs have been created in the region. Blue Origin has invested more than $2.5 billion in facilities and infrastructure at all sites, including $1 billion invested in the rebuild of historic LC-36, which is nearing completion.
While this is disappointing for many to hear, we might still get to see test hardware for the Saturn V sized launcher later this year. We saw a glimpse of the pathfinder vehicle the other week and it looks to at least have most of the external construction complete.
Videos of inside New Glenn’s manufacturing and launch facilities
Blue Origin released videos of inside their manufactory, test, and launch facilities located at Florida’s Space Coast earlier this week.
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