Blue Origin Wins NASA Contract for Future Space Missions
Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, was awarded the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract by NASA on Wednesday, announced the U.S. space agency.
This means the aerospace company will be able to compete for future NASA space missions, alongside SpaceX, for instance.
Under the NLS II contract, Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket will be able to take part in planetary expeditions, Earth observations, as well as satellite launches, as pointed out by the company on its website.
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New Glenn is an impressive rocket. It's a mighty 310-foot (94.5 meter) reusable booster that is able to carry 45 tons of payload into low-orbit Earth, and it's due to launch in 2021.
That means New Glenn will be able to launch around a third more into space than SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket.
As Blue Origin explained, "New Glenn is a single-configuration, operationally reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle powered by seven BE-4 liquefied natural gas rocket engines. The vehicle’s seven-meter fairing provides more than double the usable volume of any existing launch vehicle."
We are expanding our partnership with @NASA today with the addition of #NewGlenn to the Launch Services Program catalog. Read the details https://t.co/PaFwnTC0tO pic.twitter.com/R2TJPokxOG— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) December 16, 2020
Under the new NASA contract, NASA centers in the U.S. will be able to "design spacecraft to take advantage of New Glenn's unique seven-meter fairing and heavy-lift performance for a broad range of missions." It'll also allow Blue Origin to compete for missions through the Launch Service Task Orders set up by NASA up until 2027.
"We are proud to be in NASA’s launch services catalog and look forward to providing reliable launches for future NASA missions aboard New Glenn for years to come," said Jarrett Jones, senior vice president of New Glenn at Blue Origin.
"The award builds on Blue Origin’s existing partnership with NASA and will advance science and exploration to benefit Earth."