OneWeb becomes second customer for Blue Origin’s New Glenn booster
On Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos announced on Twitter that OneWeb, an organization committed to making the Internet available and affordable to everyone by 2027, has reached an initial agreement for five launches on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket.
Greg Wyler, chairman of OneWeb, also tweeted shortly thereafter to confirm the agreement and state that they will be hard at work creating jobs and satellites at their facility in Exploration Park, Florida, which is across the street from Blue Origin’s new facility currently under construction.
This news comes on the heels of yesterday’s announcement when French-based satellite provider Eutelsat Communications, became the first company to sign a contract with Blue Origin for a launch on the New Glenn rocket.
Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida, also lauded the announcement which comes during the week of the annual Florida Space Day in Tallahassee. Florida Space Day is when the aerospace industry meets with the Florida Legislature and Governor’s Office to thank the state of Florida for their continued support.
“That support is not unappreciated, and with their continued support, Florida will remain the global leader in enabling space commerce,” said Dibello. “Space Florida congratulates both Blue Origin and the OneWeb Airbus Satellite partnership on their announcement. Space Florida and its partners are proud to be a part of this transformation.”
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 engine is an oxidizer-rich staged-combustion engine, being developed to end U.S. reliance on Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines. It will be able to produce 550,000 pounds (249,476 kilograms) of thrust, and a vacuum-optimized variant of the engine, developed for the second stage of the New Glenn rocket, will include a longer nozzle.
In addition to powering the New Glenn rocket, United Launch Alliance is also considering the use of the BE-4 on their next generation Vulcan launcher. Establishing independence from the Russian engine is becoming increasingly important as relations between the two countries remain strained.
On Monday, March 6, Jeff Bezos unveiled the first fully assembled BE-4 engine on Twitter.
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, which are slated to begin in 2020.
College student and long time space enthusiast, Jose has been a constant visitor to Cape Canaveral since he moved to central Florida. He joined the SFI team in the hopes of becoming more involved in the coverage of spaceflight and space exploration.
Does anyone know the specifications and pricing for the New Glenn rocket? If Blue Origin is getting customers one can assume they are competitive with SpaceX. With seven 550,000 lbf first stage engines implies a fair amount of lift. It would certainly be beyond a single satellite launch. It would be nice to know the details.