Massive. Enormous. Huge. Gigantic. And whatever other words you find in the thesaurus all do the job when it comes to describing Blue Origin’s New Glenn Rocket. Especially its nosecone.
Blue Origin recently gave us a look at the nosecone, more properly called the payload fairing, in a short video. The company says it can fit nearly 50% more payload than the next competitor. They’re trying to build one rocket and payload fairing combination that can meet the needs of all customers: commercial, civil, and national security.
The fairing itself is 7 meters (22 ft) in diameter.
The company points out that their New Shepard rocket can fit inside the New Glenn’s payload fairing. Truly astonishing.
Rocket engines get most of the glory, but without that payload fairing, rockets can’t do much. The payload fairing shelters the payload during the turmoil of launch, and needs to withstand all of the vibrations and other stresses. Once in orbit, the fairing falls away in two pieces, and the payload can be delivered.
Obviously, it doesn’t matter how powerful a rocket is if it can’t fit the bulk of the payload. The video was taken at the company’s Florida manufacturing facility, and shows how small people are in comparison. The fairing is huge!
New Glenn will feature a reusable first stage that, according to Blue Origin, will last for 25 missions. They also say that the rocket will be able to launch in 95% of weather conditions, implying that launch schedules will be reliable.
New Glenn will reach a towering height of 95 meters (313 ft) which will dwarf any other commercially available vehicle. And it will be capable of delivering 45 metric tons, almost 100,000 pounds, into Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).
Initially, Jeff Bezos said that New Glenn would be ready to launch this year, but where have we heard that before? Now, the company says that it’ll launch with its first payload in 2021.
So far, they only have the main engines and the payload fairing. They’re still working on the rest of the vehicle.