Images from Space Show Blue Origin’s New Glenn Rocket Simulator on Launchpad

Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, the next-generation launch vehicle, has been observed in a vertical position on the launch pad at Launch Complex 36, Cape Canaveral Space Force Base, Florida. Satellite images taken on Valentine’s Day (14 February) showed the rocket’s towering height visible from space. The New Glenn booster simulator, a physical stand-in for the flight-ready rocket, was recently erected at the launch complex.

The New Glenn rocket, once fully assembled, stands over 320 feet (98 meters) tall. It is capable of launching 45 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO). The first stage of New Glenn is designed to be reusable, and is powered by seven BE-4 rocket engines, built by Blue Origin. The same BE-4 engines also power the first stage of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which had its first launch last month.

Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has been developing the New Glenn rocket for over a decade. The project has faced delays, which have pushed back the rocket’s debut by more than three years. However, with the booster simulator now standing upright on the pad, Blue Origin’s goal of launching in 2024 seems more achievable.

Satellite images of the New Glenn rocket were captured using SkySat C2, a satellite from Earth imaging company Planet, and the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) of the Umbra-05 satellite. The images show the rocket’s tall, white body and its long shadow stretching across the launch pad, visible even from space.

Despite several delays, the two stages of the rocket were joined together for the first time earlier this year. The first launch, currently scheduled for August 2024, will carry NASA’s two-spacecraft Mars mission, known as EscaPADE (Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers). The successful launch of New Glenn in 2024 would contribute to the increasing private spaceflight activities on Florida’s Space Coast.

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