New Glenn Test Vehicle 1st & 2nd Stages undergo first tests

23rd Jan 2024
New Glenn Test Vehicle 1st & 2nd Stages undergo first tests

Blue Origin is making progress toward launching its New Glenn vehicle this year. The two stages of the New Glenn rocket have been mated for the first time, the company announced on X on 22nd January.

Successful Stage Integration at LC-36

Blue Origin, the private aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, has achieved a crucial milestone in its journey towards space exploration. The achievement unfolded at Launch Complex 36 (LC-36) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Standing at 322 feet (98 meters), the two-stage New Glenn is poised to outperform its competitors. With a payload capacity of 50 tons (45 metric tons) to Low Earth Orbit, it doubles the capability of SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9. Blue Origin aims to establish itself as a major player in the space launch market with this remarkable feat.

While the journey to New Glenn’s inaugural flight has seen delays, Blue Origin is actively preparing for a series of tanking tests and simulated countdowns at its launch site in Cape Canaveral. Despite previous setbacks, the company is optimistic about a 2024 launch date and anticipates overcoming the challenges that come with assembling and launching a rocket of such magnitude.

Blue Origin is set to ramp up engine testing in the coming months, a crucial step before New Glenn’s debut launch. The BE-4 engines, fueled by methane, and the hydrogen-fueled BE-3U engines will undergo rigorous testing in Alabama. These engines will power the two stages of New Glenn. The likelihood of success with the engines comes from the prior use of the BE-4 in thee successful launch of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket. The January launch marked a critical milestone, demonstrating the capabilities of these engines and paving the way for Blue Origin’s ambitious plans for the New Glenn rocket.

Blue Origin’s Role in ESCAPADE

In a groundbreaking collaboration, NASA plans to launch its robotic Mars mission, ESCAPADE, aboard the first flight of New Glenn. Despite the mission facing a two-year delay due to planetary positions if not launched next year, both Blue Origin and NASA are eager to see the successful deployment of the two small identical spacecraft designed to study the Martian magnetosphere.

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