Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin signs Eutelsat as first customer

Image Credit Blue Origin

A ripple could be felt through the space exploration world after Jeff Bezos tweeted a picture the engine that will power his new enormous rocket that is expected to accompany a new spacecraft in the coming years.

"We couldn't hope for a better first partner", Bezos said during a keynote address at the Satellite 2017 conference in Washington.

Eutelsat Chief Executive Rodolphe Belmer said the company was convinced that Blue Origin had the "right mind-set to compete in the launch service industry".

Maybe the Blue Origin video will give Elon Musk a chance to shoot a zinger at Bezos in their battle of one-upmanship? "I'm taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin".

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As the current Trump administration reveals its interest in moon missions, Blue Origin has circulated a white paper that details its interest to develop a lunar spacecraft with a lander that can deliver supplies to the lunar surface. "When we do achieve that goal, we will reach a new equilibrium in this industry".

But Blue Origin sports a tortoise on its coat of arms, and Mr. Bezos appears content to play that role to Mr. Musk's hare. Despite only being unveiled very recently, the booster already has its first customer, with communications satellite giant Eutelsat slated to be use it for a geostationary satellite launch, presumably in 2019.

Bezos tweeted two pictures of the first fully-assembled BE-4 engine Monday, adding that the second and third copies are "following close behind". From the outset, the rocket was meant to be reusable, and Bezos said during his presentation that it is being created to fly as many as 100 times.

The Seattle-based company, which now employs about 1,000 people, also has begun renovating Launch Complex 36 and adjacent Launch Complex 11 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it will launch New Glenns and test their BE-4 main engines.

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The BE-4 and AR1 will employ a staged combustion cycle, a more efficient engine cycle than now available on other US liquid hydrocarbon rocket engines.

The biggest part of making space tourism a reality is reducing costs enough that it's feasible for actual human beings to go to space, and not just the ultra-rich. Initially scheduled to launch in 2020, Blue Origin might have made a decision to speed things up in order to gain an advantage over its rivals, both private and government. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) also plans to use the BE-4 in a new rocket the company is building called the Vulcan.

The client is Eutelsat, the French satellite provider.

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