Blue Origin Will Not Use its Own Rockets to Launch Amazon’s Internet Satellites27th Apr 2021
Blue Origin has announced that it will not be sending its Amazon’s Internet satellites on the company’s New Glenn rocket but will use Atlas V from the United Launch Alliance instead. While the company has not disclosed any exact launch dates, they have confirmed signing an agreement with ULA for nine launches. In total, Amazon plans to deploy over 3,200 satellites creating a constellation for broadband internet connection.
Reasons not to Launch Amazon’s Internet Satellites on Blue Origin Rockets
One of the primary reasons Blue Origin is not going to use its heavyweight New Glenn rocket to deploy Amazon’s Internet satellites into low earth orbit is that New Glenn is still in development. And, according to the federal license agreement, Amazon should deploy at least 50% of the planned satellites by 2026. So, it looks like none of Jeff Bezos’s companies is willing to take the risk of missing this deadline.
In terms of a rocket choice, Blue Origin seems to have chosen the lesser of two evils. To date, Atlas V is the second most proven and most frequently launched carrier in the US after SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Atlas already carried out 85 successful missions, while Falcon boasts 113 of those. However, Elon Musk’s company is the direct competitor to Bezos’s Blue Origin because SpaceX is working on a satellite constellation of its own – Starlink. Today, Starlink already has over 1,400 active satellites in LEO – the figure Blue Origin is only hoping to reach by 2026.
On the other hand, ULA is less of a competition because the company is not planning to deploy satellite constellations. However, it is working on Vulcan, a heavyweight rocket similar to New Glenn. Both rockets will be powered by Blue Origin proprietary BE-4 engines, and when operational, will become direct competitors. So far, however, Blue Origin is happy to entrust Amazon’s Internet satellites deployment to ULA.