Ars Technica reported Tuesday that Blue Origin has rolled out the first test tank for their “Project Jarvis” New Glenn upper stage. Ars photographer Trevor Mahlmann captured photos showing the tank’s movement at Blue’s site on LC-36 in Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Blue Origin’s first test tank seen at LC-36
Trevor Mahlmann spotted the Jarvis test tank from the air after receiving a tip that rollout was expected for the start of Blue Origin testing. Made of stainless steel, this tank will serve to validate whether the design can withstand the pressures of New Glenn’s upper stage.
The tank was moved using modular transport that we’ve seen SpaceX use down in Starbase, Texas. This is a critical part to ensure the Blue Origin team has a solid base to then take this tank and turn it into a reusable second stage.
What is Project Jarvis?
Ars broke the news last month, following rumors of a possible switch, that Blue Origin began a new project within its New Glenn development program called Jarvis. Project Jarvis is aimed at developing a reusable second stage for the New Glenn rocket and validating if SpaceX’s rapid development and testing structure could be copied.
Blue Origin has still yet to acknowledge the existence of this project, but with the view of a stainless steel tank rolling around their launch site, there’s no longer a need for them to confirm its existence.
Blue Origin is planning on selecting the preferred method for turning their large expensive upper stage reusable by the end of this year. The options are between mimicking Starships flaps and vertical landing, large wings that will help it glide to a runway, or the development of an aerospike engine that doubles as a heat shield.
Space Explored’s Take
This is great news for the New Glenn rocket and truly awesome to see and hear about (please choose the aerospike option). This news, however, comes the same day that the Denver Business Journal reports that United Launch Alliance will not get its flight-ready BE-4 engines from Blue Origin this year. For the first time in this engine dilemma, ULA CEO Tory Bruno seems to give a stern public warning to Jeff Bezos’ company to get its act together. “I need [Blue Origin] to diligently work through the plans we have and get done on time”. The Jarvis tank is a big step forward for the company, but failing to publicly acknowledge the program while delaying your business partners again are two major steps backward.
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