[Marxism] Meet New Glenn, the Blue Origin Rocket That May Someday Take You to Space
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 13 09:42:59 MDT 2016
(Jeff Bezos says, “Our vision is millions of people living and working
in space." You can bet that those working in Amazon warehouses on Mars
will have their bathroom breaks recorded.)
NY Times, Sept. 13 2016
Meet New Glenn, the Blue Origin Rocket That May Someday Take You to Space
By DANIEL VICTOR
Blue Origin, the secretive space company created by Jeffrey P. Bezos,
offered a look at its newest rocket design on Monday — and, by
extension, its ambitions to make space travel more frequent and inexpensive.
Both the rocket and the ambitions appear to be big.
The rockets, named New Glenn after John Glenn, the first American to
orbit the Earth, are almost as large as the Saturn V rocket that NASA
used from 1966 to 1973, before rockets started being built smaller. The
two-stage version that could venture to low-Earth orbit will be 270 feet
tall, and the three-stage version, which could fly outside Earth’s
orbit, will be 313 feet tall. Both will be 23 feet in diameter, packing
seven BE-4 engines, which are developed by Blue Origin, and lifting off
with 3.85 million pounds of thrust.
Blue Origin plans to first launch the rocket from Launch Complex 36 at
Cape Canaveral, Fla., before the end of the decade.
“Our vision is millions of people living and working in space, and New
Glenn is a very important step,” Mr. Bezos, the billionaire founder of
Amazon, said in an email update.
As a private company, Blue Origin could launch wealthy tourists into
space, send commercial satellites into orbit and provide the technology
to send NASA back to the moon, as well as to Mars and beyond.
Perfecting the technology of reusable rockets — which the New Glenn
rockets would be — could have profound implications on the cost and
frequency of space travel. Imagine how much more expensive a flight from
New York to London would be if airlines built a new 747 jet for each
flight, throwing them away after one use. That is effectively the
current model of the space industry; rockets typically crash back into
Earth after exhausting their fuel, and the steep costs of travel depress
how often it happens.
“Reusability is a total game-changer,” said Charles Miller, the
president of NexGen Space L.L.C., a space and public policy consultancy.
“It’s on the order of going from the sail to the steam engine, or going
from the horse to the automobile.”
Blue Origin first launched its reusable New Shepard rocket from West
Texas in November, sending a capsule that would eventually carry paying
passengers to a height of 329,839 feet, just crossing the 100-kilometer
line that is considered the beginning of outer space.
Before New Glenn was announced as the rocket’s name on Monday, Mr.
Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, had referred to it as “Very Big
The large size of New Glenn — Mr. Miller, a former senior adviser for
NASA, had guessed it would be big but thought it would have five
engines, not seven — suggests the company would seek to lower the price
of space tourism by offering more seats on the flights, he said.
In March, Mr. Bezos said that tourists could make short trips into
space, experiencing a few minutes of weightlessness, as soon as 2018 via
the reusable New Shepard spacecraft. The experience would doubtlessly be
reserved for the rich, at least initially, but Mr. Bezos said it would
be necessary to build expertise and further develop the technology.
Though the company was registered in 2000, Mr. Bezos had not let
reporters into its headquarters in Kent, Wash., until March of this
year. In September 2015, Blue Origin said it would invest $200 million
and create 330 jobs by leasing a launch complex at Cape Canaveral Air
Mr. Miller said if the dream of inexpensive space travel were fulfilled,
it would significantly impact life on Earth. In best-case scenarios, the
ability to more easily launch satellites could lead to worldwide
broadband internet, better weather predictions, the monitoring of carbon
sources and the farming of solar energy.
For the United States, it could have national security implications, he
said. The ability to destroy United States satellites that provide
surveillance and guide missiles is a current liability, but enemies may
be less likely to target them if they could be quickly replaced.
And NASA will most likely be a customer, using the New Glenn rockets for
“With this vehicle, going to Mars will become a lot easier,” Mr. Miller
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