This article has been updated to correct an error that misstated the relative size of New Glenn’s payload.
October 11, 2018, © Leeham News: Wednesday’s announcement that the U.S. Air Force had selected Blue Origin along with Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance to develop launch system prototypes was welcomed news for the Jeff Bezos-backed company. The Air Force has committed about $500 million through 2024 for Blue Origin’s contract to develop its New Glenn rocket, which will be able to haul 50-ton payloads to low Earth orbit and 13-ton loads to geosynchronous orbit.
Nonetheless, the company’s “entire fundamental business model is based around commercial launches,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said at the Aerospace Futures Alliance’s annual summit in Lynnwood, WA.
Smith said New Glenn is expected to launch in 2021. As recently as this summer, company executives had said first launch is slated for late 2020.