NEWS BRIEF Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, has unveiled the design of a new rocket that will carry satellites and astronauts to space, fly back to land on Earth, and stand almost as tall as the rocket that launched Americans to the moon nearly 50 years ago.
Bezos said in an email Monday that the orbital rocket, known as the New Glenn, will be ready for a test launch before the end of this decade. The rocket is named for John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.
Here’s a look at New Glenn, alongside other rockets—past, present, and in development:
New Glenn will measure 23 feet in diameter, with 3.85 million pounds of thrust. It will be powered by seven Blue Engine 4 rocket engines, which Blue Origin has spent more than four years developing, that burn liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen. The same kind of engine will power the new Vulcan rocket (pictured above) from United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which is scheduled for test launch around 2019.
The New Glenn family will include two variations. The two-stage version of the rocket will be 270 feet tall. The three-stage version will stand 313 feet high, with a “high specific impulse hydrogen upper stage” that will allow the rocket to fly further into space, beyond low-Earth orbit.