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Blue Origin just debuted the rocket it’s going to use to take on SpaceX

Published Mar 7th, 2017 2:29PM EST
blue origin
Image: Blue Origin

Blue Origin — the Jeff Bezos owned SpaceX competitor hoping to slice off a piece of the private spaceflight industry for itself — has been working diligently to crawl out from under the shadow of its rival for a while now. But the company can think about taking the lead it first needs to catch up, and that’s what it’s attempting to do with its newly revealed New Glenn rocket and BE-4 engine. Blue Origin just announced both, along with the name of its very first customer.

The New Glenn rocket — named in honor of astronaut John Glenn — is expected to begin flights in 2020, and its capabilities are nearly a mirror image of what SpaceX’s Falcon 9 can pull off. SpaceX and Blue Origin also have very similar plans in terms of rocket reusability, as well as remote barge landings, and the two will likely compete for the same contracts once Blue Origin truly gets its feet under it.

To accompany the announcement of the new hardware, Blue Origin put together a concept video showing what the final product will look like. The video won’t win any awards for special effects, and it looks a bit like school project if we’re being totally honest, but it gives you an idea of what the company has in mind.

Slated for launch sometime in 2021 or 2022, Blue Origin will carry out a mission to launch a satellite from French communications company Eutelsat into geostationary orbit. Assuming it all goes well, the battle for the private spaceflight industry could get pretty heated.