back to article Jeff Bezos' thrusting cylinder makes Elon Musk's look minuscule

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin has revealed designs for its first orbit-and-beyond-capable boosters. The “New Glenn” rocket is named in honour of first United States astronaut to orbit the Earth, John Glenn. The 82m-tall, two-stage craft will pack 3.85 million pounds of thrust. If it lifted today, that would …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The first stage will be reusable and looks like it will try to mimic SpaceX's vertical landing trick, perhaps even on an offshore barge.

    Why mimic? Blue Origin was also designed to land vertically from the very beginning.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Landing vertically is only part of it - the real trick is landing vertically with the correct end pointing up, and at a manageable speed. High-speed, point-end-down rocket landing has been a thing since the V2.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        As a hypothetical occupant would not be able to walk away I doubt a pointy end down rapid geometry adjustment would classify as a landing.

        Remember, any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. If the aircraft can subsequently also be reused it's a great landing!

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          I do get the economics of reusability, but right now I'd definitely settle for just being able to reliably put something in orbit and sod reusing the rockets.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          >As a hypothetical occupant would not be able to walk away I doubt a pointy end down rapid geometry adjustment would classify as a landing.

          You just step off at the last moment - I saw Roadrunner do it on TV so it must be true.

          (unless you are one of those cranks who thinks TV is faked in a sound stage somewhere)

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Ofcourse its not fake. Its all filmed live on Mars!

      2. Chemical Bob

        Re: High-speed, point-end-down rocket landing has been a thing since the V2.

        The Chinese perfected that centuries before the Germans.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    units

    82 metres, millions of pounds of thrust.

    Consistent units (or Imp and met and Register's own) please. Makes calculations easier.

    Now. If payload = 1.23 African elephants, take off at 3pm, altitude is 24923 London buses, divide by the number you first thought of. Carry the one. Does anyone else get an answer of 'a seal in a hat'?

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: units

      Forget units, they couldn't even settle on a consistent number format. The decimal separator switches from full stop to comma within the same paragraph.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: units

      I got 'Wood'.....and so has that rocket, by the look of it.

    3. x 7

      Re: units

      FFS I've you want sensible units to define rocket thrust can't you standardize on something logical and realistic?

      I suggest the use of Sauropod farts. A rocket should be rated in terms of Brontosaur farts, or maybe a large rocket in terms of Argentinosaurus huinculensis thrust

      1. stucs201

        Re: units

        Surely the correct base unit for thrust is the "untied balloon". You're going to need very large numbers to apply that to rockets though.

    4. Montreal Sean

      Re: units

      "Now. If payload = 1.23 African elephants, take off at 3pm, altitude is 24923 London buses, divide by the number you first thought of. Carry the one. Does anyone else get an answer of 'a seal in a hat'?"

      Damn, I got 'a seal holding a hat'.

      I must have forgotten to carry the argyle sock.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: units

        And I've just realised I cocked up the reference to John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme.

        Should have been "Sea LION in a little hat"

        God knows where that satellite will end up now...

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "... named in honour of first United States astronaut John Glenn ..."

    Excuse me? First US astronaut that went into orbit, yes, but third US astronaut to make a flight. (Not counting the apes.)

    As Bezos already has a "New Shepard", he seems to be aware of that.

    Which beckons the question whether there will be a "New Grissom". Or a "New Gagarin". Space still offers the opportunity to leave behind some petty, smallminded mindsets and develop something bigger, better for all mankind.

    1. Vulch

      "New Armstrong" was mentioned in the presentation.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Meh

        I hate to say it but I can never see an American firm creating a "New Gagarin". They'd be hounded as un-American and probably lose all government funding. The same goes for Russians creating a "New Armstrong" or whatever. It's just not going to happen.

        Only ESA would be willing to do something like that. Hell in Germany we have Yuri's night every year (at least in cities where there is a bit of the space industry, like Bremen). I cant imagine a Yuri's night existing in the US or a "Neil's night" existing in Russia.

        Pity. Maybe I'll be proved wrong one day, but I doubt it...

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          I would not be so sure

          The same goes for Russians creating a "New Armstrong" or whatever.

          Russians are usually quite good on the subject of "credit where credit is due" so I would not be so sure. They just may. You never know.

          Though they have to run out of a fairly long list of names themselves: Titov, Leonov, Dzhanibekov, Korolev, Tsiolkovski, Komarov, Tereshkova just to start off with.

          1. lglethal Silver badge

            Re: I would not be so sure

            @ Voland.

            10 years ago I would have agreed with you. But in the current anti-Western, scarily nationalistic climate Putin has going on over there at the moment, I definitely cannot see it happening.

        2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          The yanks may be xenophobes but at least we (a major UK astro society) hosted a big Yuri's Day celebration in the UK for the 50th anniversary ... science milestones are science milestones, whatever colour they are.

        3. HausWolf

          Actually while small, I've seen Yuri night celebrations here in the NE Ohio area. We're not all mouth breathing Trump voters here.;

          1. PaulFrederick

            Trump Mouthbreathers

            Yeah some of you are card carrying communists. We know that already.

        4. John D. Blair

          we celebrate Yuri's night in the US, at NASA

          We actually do celebrate Yuri's Night here in the U. S. of A. I attended what can only be properly described as a nerd rave in a tent at Moffett Field, home of NASA Ame's Research Center. DJs, flashing lights, scientific and artsy displays, re-purposed Burning Man projects, and I suspect a few mind altering substances - all the hallmarks of a Bay Area party :)

          1. FrankAlphaXII

            Re: we celebrate Yuri's night in the US, at NASA

            They do it at Kennedy, and probably also at Johnson, but the one in Florida doesn't sound like anywhere near as much fun as what Ames has going on. At the same time I doubt you're going to see anything like that at Redstone, Vandenberg or White Sands considering who their operators are.

      2. MrT

        "New Armstrong"...

        ... that's stretching things...

        ...

        After all, he first flew as an astronaut around 4 years after John Glenn.

        Bezos may save that moniker for his first off-planet landing and return though. Or if he can get a flying bedstead into orbit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd say Glenn was more notable as the oldest man in space (does he still hold that record?)

    3. Axman

      ....but third US astronaut to make a flight. (Not counting the apes.)

      Why aren't we counting the apes?

      1. Philip Mather

        Re: ....but third US astronaut to make a flight. (Not counting the apes.)

        I was going to crack a "fire Trump into space" joke but actually, genuinely don't want to slur the apes with comparison to that "thing".

      2. ma1010 Silver badge

        Re: ....but third US astronaut to make a flight. (Not counting the apes.)

        Why aren't we counting the apes?

        Because "New Ham" sounds like some synthetic food product.

    4. Getmo
      Paris Hilton

      Orbit > "in space"

      "The first US astronaut to orbit" means the earlier flights were sub-orbital. They went straight up and straight back down.

      Yes sub-orbital flights are important to do first for safety testing. But I guarantee it wasn't the main reason they were thinking of. At the time the Soviets were ahead of US in space race, president wanted to get an American "in space" as quickly as possible.

      Getting your vehicle high enough and fast enough pointed in the right direction that you can go all the way around without crashing into the surface is a different feat altogether. The earlier flights were basically to make sure the rocket wouldn't explode.

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Four big choices

    Falcon heavy demo 1 is scheduled for early 2017. Senate launch System first test launch planned for November 2018, New Glenn before 2020 and Long March 9 in 2025.

    Anyone want to bet on the next big rocket (after Saturn V) to have a successful launch?

    Perhaps I didn't see the last man on the moon.

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Re: Four big choices

      You likely did not. Perhaps the last state sponsored man on the moon (though probably not as China and India have something to prove), but probably not the last person on the moon.

      My money's on Falcon Heavy and the Senate Launch System. SpaceX and ULA actually have experience. Blue Origin may have a bunch of money thanks to Bezos but they have nowhere near as much experience. And spaceflight is prone to failure before the people behind it get it right. Just how it is.

  5. ManOnTheHill

    Jeff Bezos' thrusting cylinder makes Elon Musk's look miniscule -

    But Musk's has three nose cones...

    1. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)
    2. Anonymous Blowhard

      "But Musk's has three nose cones"

      And the Saturn V is bigger than both *and* has more ridges and bumps...

      1. kventin

        *and* it is demonstrably able to fly you to the moon

        1. Anonymous Blowhard

          "*and* it is demonstrably able to fly you to the moon"

          Did the Earth move (250,000 miles away) for you?

        2. Patrician

          Actually the Saturn 5 didn't "fly anyone to the moon".

          1. Graham Dawson

            Bits of it did.

            1. Patrician

              No, none on it did; only the Apollo Spacecraft comprising the command capsule and the Luna lander, neither of which are a part of the Saturn 5 launcher, left Earth orbit..

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Well - since they crashed 4 (or was it 5) of the third stages into the moon (as seismometer calibration tests) I have to disagree.

                The Saturn V was designed and built to send men to the moon (using the Apollo spacecraft)

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Yeahbut!! no one elses has any where NEAR the MASSIVE DILDO simulation of Bezos errection.

      3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Kripke: You guys ever use any toys?

        Sheldon: I do have a model rocket next to my bed.

        Kripke: A rocket? You're a freak! I love it!

  6. Rocketist
    Devil

    Size and shape!

    Well that New Shepard sure looked a bit puny in comparison, even if it was quite suggestively shaped. New Glenn is kinda too smooth by comparison. And I still wonder what Bezos wants to ej... er, I mean, what sort of payload he's planning to inject into what sort of orbit, if that's the word?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Size and shape!

      what sort of payload he's planning to inject into what sort of orbit, if that's the word

      New Amazon Prime delivery - warhead to your chosen latitude, longitude and altitude. Delivered worldwide. Make sure that the chosen destination is ready to accept it, otherwise it may be left with the "friendly" neighbours. It is up to you to guarantee that the neighbour will not peruse your 10Mt package.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: new Amazon Prime delivery

        Did North Korea alredy sign up?

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Paper rocket

    We'll see how it is when metal has actually been bent. Right now, the only existing part is engine prototypes. I've seen a LOT of rockets never make it out of Powerpoint. At least SLS has an assembled first stage fuel tank.

    Speaking of which, it's interesting that's been left out of the diagram, since it's a very similar class rocket.

    1. twelvebore

      Re: Paper rocket

      Proton isn't on there either...

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Paper rocket

      "I've seen a LOT of rockets never make it out of Powerpoint."

      Any rocket designed in Powerpoint should never get out.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Paper rocket

        Any rocket designed in Powerpoint should never get out.

        What about Excel?

        You can do anything in Excel. You probably shouldn't, but that's another story. And the rumours that I've used it to write letters are entirely inaccurate erm.. mumble, mumble, mumble...

        1. Philip Mather

          Re: Paper rocket

          Rumour has it that Slashdot is in fact running out of a excel spreadsheet.

        2. Julian I-Do-Stuff

          Re: Paper rocket

          ESA's Concurrent Design Facility - where they mess around with mission options* - at Estec may still be driven by Excel. Last thing I'm pretty sure was done with Excel was LISA Pathfinder but I suspect it's still in use.

          * Not enough power... bigger solar panels... stronger reaction wheels... not enough room... shrink the batteries... more cooling?... move to the outside... They trade off design options on-the-fly. It's Excel AND cool.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Paper rocket

            It must be a right bugger getting all the power / size / weight / redundency trade-offs "right" on these things. For a given value of right, as there's no correct answer. Then for all the different instrument teams to come back saying can they please just have a bit more. Then after months of back and forward with that, you go to a funding committee who tell you to change everything as you're now going on a different rocket with more/less payload. Or to build that bit in this other country/constituency. Or that they want it all painted purple and shaped like Barney the dinosaur...

            OK, that last one probably hasn't ever happened.

            It certainly make the kind of engineering I do look bloody easy. Which, to be fair, it is. Otherwise I wouldn't be doing it. Plus, if I do screw up, I can apologise humbly, run the calcs again, and we can send an engineer round to replace the part with the right one. Our service engineer call-outs start at about £300, less outside central London, not sure what it is once you go past the asteroid belt.

            I did once try to sell a pink water storage tank for a bet, but failed. Never any purple ones.

        3. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Paper rocket

          Excel...

          I once directly controlled the lights in the building from Excel.

          I had to take a shower afterwards.

        4. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Paper rocket

          >>Any rocket designed in Powerpoint should never get out.

          >What about Excel?

          Some of my first rocket simulations were done in excel (IIRC there was a macro pack called something like Watson??)

          Some of those were where I spotted a fuel reporting error on the NASA website for one of their deep space probes (this is 20 years ago now) and asked them what the actual situation was. Got a nice reply, and the website updated.

  8. imanidiot Silver badge

    Nothing intermediate?

    It looks like Bezos is trying to go from the "dinky little" New Shepard to New Glenn in a single go. Which is like SpaceX going from Falcon 1 to Falcon Heavy in a single step. Seems a bit ambitious to me.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Nothing intermediate?

      Seeing the first prototypes blow up has a certain tradition...

  9. hellwig Silver badge

    But can it land?

    Blue Origin so far has only launched and landed sub-orbital rockets, right? Seems to me he could announce a rocket capable of launching the Pentagon into orbit, but until it flies it's just an announcement.

    Seeing as SpaceX has actually reached earth orbit and returned (although damaged), I'm not sure Musk is sweating just yet. Plus, if Musk's rhetoric is honest, competition is good, that's the whole reason he's doing what he's doing, to open up space to a greater audience.

    1. Philip Mather

      Re: But can it land?

      I tell you what if it could launch Westminster Palace instead of the Pentagon in to orbit I'd crowd fund the shit out of it?

  10. Herby Silver badge

    Nothing beats a Saturn 5

    And for a while, I doubt that anything will.

    Given that the Saturn 5 was made with 1960's technology, it is pretty amazing. Werner did a very good job.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Nothing beats a Saturn 5

      Clint Boone and his Hammond organ did a great job with 1960's technology too.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Gimp

    That photo looks like there is a can of Red Bull lifting off.

    I sense a marketing opportunity...

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: That photo looks like there is a can of Red Bull lifting off.

      Wait until late September, when Musk hopefully announces the BFR. Probably shorter than the Sat5, but much wider. Will make the diagram much more interesting. And yes, it is missing the SLS

  12. Ben Burch

    I'll believe it...

    ...when he flies it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll believe it...

      His ambition has already flown halfway to infinity. Doesn't that count?

  13. Faux Science Slayer

    "I'll Take Some E Pluribus....but Hold the Unum" at CanadaFreePress

    The Rothschild monopolists set up US fronts Rockefeller and Morgan who then monopolized US banking, steel, rail and press. These elitists captured and controlled Edison, Westinghouse, stole patents to create Bell Telephone and noble fraud Marconi. All current monopolists were preselected.

  14. TribalTalker

    The clue is in the name

    Anybody else think this isn't my tin-foil hat talking?

    Shepard -> sub-orbital

    Glenn -> orbital

    Armstrong -> moon landing... crikey.

  15. stu 19

    anyone else

    Think of this as a giant rocket cock

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