Jeff Bezos will invest “just over $1 billion” next year in Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket program, and the company will fly people to space “this coming year,” the Amazon.com Inc. chief executive said Wednesday.
Speaking during a keynote address at the Air Force Assn.’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Bezos said a “big team of people” is working on the rocket’s development. The Kent, Wash., company has said the rocket will be available in two- and three-stage versions, and has already netted several commercial satellite launch orders.
The rocket’s BE-4 engine test program is also “going very well,” Bezos said. The engine, which will be propelled by liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen, is being considered for use in the first stage of the next generation Vulcan Centaur rocket under development by a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. known as United Launch Alliance.
Analysts have said New Glenn could compete with the likes of Hawthorne-based SpaceX and ULA for national security launch contracts, as well as commercial orders.
Blue Origin opened a 650,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Florida and has been constructing its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The two represent a total investment of about $1 billion, Bezos said Wednesday.
In addition to satellite launch contracts, Blue Origin expects to generate revenue through space tourism with its New Shepard launch vehicle and crew capsule. “We’ll be putting people in space this coming year,” Bezos said.