NASA green lights Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin for future missions, including planetary expeditions and satellite launches

NASA green lights Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin for future missions, including planetary expeditions and satellite launches
Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO and founder of aerospace company Blue Origin.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
  • NASA has granted Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin a launch contract for the New Glenn rocket.
  • Under the agreement, Blue Origin's rocket could take part in Earth observation missions, planetary expeditions, and satellite launches for the agency, Bezos' company said Wednesday.
  • The contract will also allow NASA centers in the US to design a spacecraft around the 310-foot New Glenn booster, which is expected to launch in 2021.

NASA on Wednesday awarded a contract to Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin that will allow the aerospace company to compete for future scientific missions.

With the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract, Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket could take part in Earth observation missions, planetary expeditions, and satellite launches for the agency, Bezos' company said Wednesday.
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The New Glenn rocket is a 310-foot reusable booster, expected to be launched in 2021. It is designed to lift 45 tons into low-Earth orbit - a third more tonnage than SpaceX's Falcon Heavy can lift.
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Under the contract, NASA centers in the US 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."      

NASA said in a statement Wednesday Blue Origin's that New Glenn would be eligible for missions through December 2027.

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"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," Jarrett Jones, senior vice president of Blue Origin's New Glenn program, said.

"The award builds on Blue Origin's existing partnership with NASA and will advance science and exploration to benefit Earth." This isn't the first time NASA has chosen to work with Blue Origin.
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In May, NASA awarded Blue Origin, Elon Musk's SpaceX, and Dynetics nearly $1 billion to produce initial designs for a human-landing system for the Artemis 3 mission. Bezos' aerospace company, founded in 2000, is competing against these companies to land NASA astronauts, and possibly the first woman, on the moon in 2024,

NASA announced November 9 it had picked 17 US companies, including Blue Origin and SpaceX, to develop new tech for space missions. The chosen firms will get access to NASA's testing facilities and expertise, which it valued at about $15.5 million.

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