Blue Origin to launch Eutelsat satellite on New Glenn rocket
French-based satellite provider Eutelsat Communications announced on March 7, 2017, at the Satellite 2017 Convention in Washington, D.C., that it had signed a contract with Blue Origin for a launch on the New Glenn rocket, which is expected to begin flights in 2020.
The contract with Blue Origin is for the launch of a geostationary satellite sometime between 2021 and 2022. The New Glenn booster is expected to be compatible with virtually all Eutelsat spacecraft, providing flexibility to allocate the mission 12 months ahead of launch.
“Blue Origin has been forthcoming with Eutelsat on its strategy and convinced us they have the right mindset to compete in the launch service industry,” said Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat CEO. “Their solid engineering approach, and their policy to develop technologies that will form the base of a broad generation of launchers, corresponds to what we expect from our industrial partners. In including New Glenn in our manifest we are pursuing our longstanding strategy of innovation that drives down the cost of access to space and drives up performance. This can only be good news for the profitability and sustainability of our industry.”
Eutelsat provides capacity on 39 satellites to broadcasters, pay-TV operators, internet providers, and government agencies in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas. According to the company, the new partnership with Blue Origin fits with its strategy to contract launch services from multiple providers in order to secure access to space and partner with launch providers that combine high levels of performance, flexibility, and competitiveness.
“Eutelsat is one of the world’s most experienced and innovative satellite operators, and we are honored that they chose Blue Origin and our New Glenn orbital launch vehicle,” said Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin founder. “Eutelsat has launched satellites on many new vehicles and shares both our methodical approach to engineering and our passion for driving down the cost of access to space. Welcome to the launch manifest, Eutelsat, can’t wait to fly together.”
Frank DiBello, Space Florida President and CEO, said that technical achievement is only truly validated with customers in the commercial marketplace.
“Today, the marketplace expressed its confidence in Blue Origin and Florida is proud to be partnered with Blue Origin in enabling that confidence,” Dibello said. “We all look forward to a new era of successful commercial endeavors for Blue Origin in commercial spaceflight. Congratulations to Jeff Bezos and the Blue Origin team!”
The New Glenn will be a 23-feet (7-meter) diameter, two-stage orbital launch vehicle with a reusable first stage and an optional third stage. The rocket’s first stage will be powered by seven BE-4 engines, also being developed and manufactured by Blue Origin.
The BE-4 uses staged combustion of liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas to produce 550,000 pounds (about 249,476 kilograms) of thrust. The second stage will have the same diameter as the first and will use a single BE-4 that has been optimized for vacuum with a longer nozzle.
The New Glenn launch vehicles will be manufactured in Florida at a facility currently under construction in Exploration Park on Kennedy Space Center property. Blue Origin has leased Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to conduct orbital launches of New Glenn.
Video courtesy of Blue Origin
Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.
Got to love the 2 sets of fins on the one in the video. The lower ones look like an update of the oversize fins on rockets in the 1950’s sci-fi movies.
That is one big rocket. Landing it on that old oil tanker will avoid the significant sonic boom that big sucker would make coming back to Florida. And if it did go off course and crash, a rocket that big would be like a 747 landing on your town. Those 7 engines are huge. Check out the crater from the 747 that Libya blew up that crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland. I was always amazed by the size of that crater. Finding, then identifying that tiny piece of circuit board and tracking it back to the Middle East was some piece of work! Too bad the perpetrators lived so long.
It looks like we have another space race. At least we don’t have to fund this one, unless it is through Amazon purchases.