NASA Plans to launch a Mars mission on Blue Origin’s New Glenn

NASA to launch a Mars mission on Blue Origin’s New Glenn

NASA Plans to launch a Mars mission on Blue Origin’s New Glenn
NASA Plans to launch a Mars mission on Blue Origin’s New Glenn

NASA Plans to launch a Mars mission on Blue Origin’s New Glenn. The first significant government contract for Blue Origin’s as-yet-untested New Glenn launch vehicle is NASA’s planned science mission to Mars, which will fly atop the rocket.

The suborbital New Shepard rocket, which has been used by so many affluent people and celebrities to reach the edge of space, has a much, much bigger sibling called New Glenn.

The launch vehicle, which was unveiled in 2016, would go up against SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and other heavy-lift choices.

However, six years later, we still haven’t seen a New Glenn intact, much less prepared to launch a Mars mission.

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Originally set for late 2021, the New Glenn’s inaugural flight was “refined” earlier that year, allegedly due to the failure of a deal with the Pentagon. The following window was Q4 of 2022, but obviously, it has passed. I requested revised timing.

The launch contract was obtained through NASA’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) program, which, at the beginning of the year, allocated a total of $300 million to be distributed among 13 businesses for various launch services. Everyone who’s anyone is on that list, effectively giving non-critical missions a cheap choice.

At the time of the grant, NASA stated that “these tiny satellites and Class D payloads tolerate relatively high risk and offer an ideal platform for technical and architectural innovation.” To put it another way, we would prefer that they didn’t blow up, but at this price, who can argue?

Escapade, a dual-craft Martian magnetosphere research that, ironically, is being developed and built by

launch rival Rocket Lab, is the mission that was fortunate enough to be given a slot on a New Glenn. (They actually don’t overlap yet, but they are competitors nonetheless.)

Despite the putative launch date of 2024, these dates sometimes change, especially when the rocket they

are scheduled to travel on is still somewhat speculative.

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But Rocket Lab isn’t upset. According to the corporation, “the mission is unsuited for launch aboard

Electron” due to the spacecraft’s size and ESCAPADE’s mission requirements.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of the mission’s goals: “The pair of Photons will conduct an 11-month

interplanetary cruise before inserting themselves into elliptical orbits around Mars to understand the

structure, composition, variability, and dynamics of Mars’ unique hybrid magnetosphere, which will also

support crewed exploration programs like Artemis through improved solar storm prediction.”

New Glenn may not have taken flight yet, but it has attracted a lot of interest, particularly from Blue

Origin’s buddies at Kuiper, Amazon’s communication satellite constellation company. They placed an order for 12 last year, so Blue’s new Huntsville factory should continue to operate for some time.

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David Maxwell

I am a tech lover, with experience in Front End Web Development, love writing articles about tech, science, and research.

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