Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' space venture, faces criticism for its lack of orbital launches in its 24-year history, contrasting with SpaceX's dominance in the market. However, with the unveiling of its towering New Glenn rocket at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Blue Origin aims to shift this narrative, showcasing progress toward its first launch, expected later this year. Named after astronaut John Glenn, New Glenn boasts a significant payload capacity, positioning itself as a competitor to SpaceX's Falcon rockets and other upcoming launches like the Vulcan and Ariane 6.

Carissa Christensen, CEO of BryceTech, a space consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia, noted that the substantial wealth of Amazon founder Mr. Bezos lent instant credibility to Blue Origin. She emphasized the adage, "Rockets run on money," highlighting the company's abundant resources and the founder's unwavering commitment as distinguishing factors.

However, Christensen suggested that having access to vast financial resources might have led Blue Origin to adopt a less urgent approach at times. She speculated that this abundance could foster a tendency towards perfectionism within the company's operations.

Image Source: Blue Origin

In contrast to SpaceX's iterative approach, Blue Origin aims for a successful maiden launch with New Glenn, drawing confidence from its experience with New Shepard's smaller boosters. The rocket's software and guidance systems, similar to those used in New Shepard, bolster this confidence, according to Mr. Charles.

Inside the manufacturing facility, attention shifts to the production of New Glenn's nose cones, designed to accommodate its wider diameter and larger payload capacity. Following completion of launchpad tests, the rocket will undergo disassembly before final assembly for its debut launch, involving engine installation and testing.

While no launch date has been confirmed, Blue Origin is speculated to launch two small NASA spacecraft for the EscaPADE mission to study Mars' magnetic fields. Mr. Jones anticipates two New Glenn launches this year, aiming to increase the pace to one launch per month next year, a notable feat given SpaceX's gradual ascent to its current launch rate of about twice a week since its first Falcon 9 launch in 2010. Mr. Jones envisions New Glenn's capacity to handle up to 12 launches annually initially, with aspirations for 24 or more launches per year in the future.