Blue Origin to Modify Road at Port Canaveral for New Glenn Transport

In a closed permit application, Blue Origin proposed modifications to Grouper Road, a road on the north side of Port Canaveral, that would allow their New Glenn booster transporter to enter and leave the port.

These modifications would entail widening some sections of the road and rerouting electrical lines. However, it is unlikely that we will see these modifications made until at least 2022. The first documents of the permit were submitted in February 2020, and the permit remained open until May 2021. Throughout this time, Blue Origin and the Canaveral Port Authority went back and forth ironing out any issues. This is all standard practice that any company goes through when submitting permits.

Grouper Road modifications

The main change to Grouper Rd will be the widening of some sections. These sections are seen in the drawings highlighted in dark grey.

A few overhead electrical lines will also need to be rerouted or moved underground according to the plans. Blue Origin marked these as “To be removed (by others)” in the plans, but the Port Authority has stated that they will not be involved.

“The Canaveral Port Authority does not have plans to underground any of the identified overhead electrical lines. Drawings shall be updated to indicate this scope of work is either included as part of this project, is the responsibility of the utility owner, or Blue Origin will conduct this scope of work under a separate project.”

Plan Review Letter, Canaveral Port Authority

It is unclear at this time who will be conducting this work or if it will be included in this project.

New Glenn Booster Transport

Drawings indicating how Blue Origin’s Transporter will ingress and egress (entering and leaving) the port were also included in the plans. This gives us a first glimpse as to what the New Glenn Booster Transporter will look like.

The plans to provide separate drawings for Ingress to the port, however, are almost identical. From these drawings, we can understand some features of the transporter.

New Glenn Transporter Drawing | Drawing Credit: Blue Origin/RS&H

First, the entire setup will span roughly 340 feet from the Semi Truck to the end of the rear trailer. This measurement was estimated using Google Earth’s measure tool and landmarks seen in the drawings. I also measured the length of the booster outline and it matched the expected values.

Second, we know this will be a custom trailer setup either manufactured by Blue Origin or contracted out to a trailer manufacturer. The drawing states that it will be a 22 axle vehicle. We will assume that the axle count does not include the semi-truck itself, which means each trailer will have 11 axles if they are symmetric. We have not seen the Blue Origin Transporter yet, but it could look like this.

A TITAN Turntable Bolster Gooseneck Modular Trailer | Image Credit: TITAN

When will work begin?

Currently, NET Q1 2022. The permit these plans are from was closed in May 2021 simply due to the timeline of the project. Most permits are reviewed and approved within 90 days, but this application had been open for over a year. Blue Origin provided this timeline for the project:

  • 100% Final Plans expected September 2021
  • Bidding Opens January 2022
    • Bidding being contractors competing for the job to construct the project
  • Construction begins Q1 2022

However, there is a lot of work required to keep a permit application open, and with this one not being needed soon, the decision was obvious. This permit application would be closed and a new application would be created by the contractor when the time comes.

There is also the matter of New Glenn’s readiness itself. A rumor is going around that the New Glenn rocket, or at least the first stage, is undergoing a material change. Everything is unconfirmed at this time, but we may see that New Glenn goes from using an aluminum alloy to stainless steel, similar to what SpaceX’s Starship is using. My opinion is that some form of material change is occurring, but I am not sold on it being to Stainless Steel. Maybe it’s to a new kind of aluminum alloy? Without official word from Blue Origin, we are left to speculate.

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