New Glenn

The schedule has slipped until the end of next year.

Not getting the Air Force contract seems like an excuse to me. Either Bezos is serious, or he isn’t. If he is, he’ll spend whatever it takes to start getting revenue. The longer he delays, the farther ahead Elon will be. In fact, if he wants to keep up, he’ll start work on New Armstrong now.

[Tuesday update]

A bridge too far?


22 thoughts on “New Glenn”

  1. I’m pretty much in the same boat they are. I’ve never launched anything into orbit, so the Air Force won’t give me a big launch contract, and since I don’t have a big launch contract, I’m not launching anything into orbit. In that regard, I’m probably not unique among your readers.

      1. Maybe Bezos should pick up the pace a little. Right now, the only people he’s competing against are the ChiComs.

  2. Bezos is in the space biz as a business…Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    Musk, otoh, is in the space business to get into space.

    I know which I support

      1. Some days I think Bezos wants to move humanity into space so he can monopolize the market for breathing oxygen.

        1. Compare Amazon HQs with their fulfillment centers.

          I don’t know what Bezos wants to do in space but his actions across all of his businesses on Earth show he is trying to capture government. There is something two faced about it, just like the difference in appearance of the HQs and fulfillment centers.

        2. Does the New Glenn want to set a high moral example to its peer launch vehicles, to be photographed out for a morning run on the beach and to not to hang around in Florida bars?

          To be in elected office so it can scold people?

        3. What was that story? The O’Neill cylinder is a harsh mistress? No big rocks to throw though easier to keep them under your thumb

  3. “”The Blue Origin team has been in contact with all of our customers to ensure this baseline meets their launch needs,” the company said.”

    They didn’t say anything about ULA.

  4. I think wodun is half right. Blue’s pricey and shiny new “factories” are certainly comparable to Amazon HQs in being “good honky fronts” as the saying goes. But Blue doesn’t seem to have any actual “fulfillment centers” in the sense of places where a lot of work gets done. Recent “factory tour” videos show seemingly endless cavernous and squeaky-clean spaces with nothing much inside including workers.

    The SpaceX Boca Chica works, in contrast, has all the aesthetic appeal of a hillbilly’s backyard, but is also a near-ceaseless hive of activity. Boca Chica impresses despite its looks. Blue’s facilities seem almost Potemkin Village-like in contrast – seemingly built primarily to impress other swells and VIPs. That doesn’t appear to be any consideration at all for Musk and Boca Chica.

    So I guess it’s no surprise that the last two years have seen New Glenn more or less matching SLS in terms of schedule slips to the right. If it had flown two years ago, NG would have been impressive. If it doesn’t fly until two years hence – or even later – it seems fated to be little more than a minor footnote. That will be especially true if its testing phase proves to be anywhere near as agonizingly “Gradatim” as the one for New Shepard has proven to be.

    1. I was referring to Amazon.

      BO’s set up looks a lot like ULA’s on the inside. They have a rocket nearing completion inside but I didn’t look close enough to see if they have them lined up in different stages of assembly like ULA and SpaceX do. If BO really is set up like ULA, they have really long lead times and that isn’t promising for an energetic test schedule.

      Maybe they have a series of them waiting to go, who knows?

  5. The way things are going, Rocket Lab is the next good bet after SpaceX. Neutron will be able to take over from Antares (Ukrainian first stage with Russian engines and a solid fuel upper stage?!). With a relatively simple upgrade (longer tanks, more or upgraded engines) it’ll be able to launch Shooting Star/Dreamchaser, including in crewed mode. So long as ISS is up there, there’s a market, and replacing the Russian segment is nowhere near as hard or complex as rumored (hint: NASA could pay Maxar and Thales to do it for under $2bln) and the IROSA upgrade extends the US segment until 2035. Starship has to be treated as a dark horse until Musk rides it into orbit, gives us all the finger, and leaves for Mars.

    1. It looks like Bezos has not learned the lesson of incrementalism, while Elon (or Gwen) is an expert at it.

  6. One similarity between SpaceX and BO. SpaceX got customers to pay for testing. BO is getting ULA to test their engines. The data from those tests should help them on their own rocket but it delays development.

    Looks like BO doesn’t have the manufacturing capacity or funds for failure. Not thought out well.

  7. Rocket Lab is now going public through a SPARC merger, something that wasn’t available to the Class of 1999 space launch startups. They’ve also announced that they’re developing a medium launch vehicle capable of placing 8 tonnes into LEO…though as recently as last August, Peter Beck of Rocket Lab said they’d never do such a thing, and gave a raft of very good reasons why not.

    My guess as to why he changed his mind is that Rocket Lab’s IPO values the company at well in excess of $1 billion. I don’t blame him at all – you go where the money is. And he has been amazingly successful at that, having gotten Lockheed-Martin to invest $5 million early on (and they stand to make many multiples of that in return). At TRW, and then at KST, I couldn’t get any aerospace company or customer (including TRW both when I was there and after) to invest anything at all, despite the market leverage being significantly higher than it is today. When I left TRW and started KST, the financial community just couldn’t understand why neither suppliers nor customers would make even a small investment in low cost launch services, and thus avoided even talking with us, or any other launch startup. I think SpaceX is what changed the financial landscape. Elon put his own money into developing new launch systems. He also gave proof positive that lower launch costs would attract business, and even enable new space business (something the “experts” denied).

    Why Bezos is being so reticent is beyond me, since he has a vehicle that can start a space tourism business right now. It may not be a lucrative business, but it could be the start – and he can afford a loss leader. Is his commitment to human spaceflight diminishing? Who knows? I mean, VG is still going, and they’ve been away from first tourist flight for almost as long as nuclear fusion has been away from engineering breakeven – except VG is privately financed, and will ultimately be a going concern. I’m quite confident of that.

    1. “Why Bezos is being so reticent is beyond me, since he has a vehicle that can start a space tourism business right now. It may not be a lucrative business, but it could be the start – and he can afford a loss leader.”

      Musk is into building experience. Bezos is throwing away experience.

  8. I think Bezos never really committed himself into Blue Origin to the degree Musk did with SpaceX. It’s just something he does as an expensive hobby from my point of view. That explains all the half-assed and half-hearted efforts we see from Blue Origin so far.

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