Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket simulator seen on launchpad from space (photos)

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Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket simulator seen on launchpad from space (photos)
a satellite view of a rocket standing on a launch pad, surrounded by green vegetation



A view of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket standing upright at Launch Complex 36 as seen from from space on Feb. 14, 2024.
(Image credit: PlanetLabs/SpaceFromSpace)

Blue Origin’s next generation launch vehicle has learned to stand upright.

Satellite images captured the rocket company’s New Glenn booster standing tall on the launchpad during Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), its towering height visible all the way from space. The booster simulator  —  a physical stand-in for a flight-ready rocket  was recently hoisted vertical at Blue Origin’s Launch Complex 36, located at Cape Canaveral Space Force Base, in Florida.

When fully stacked, the two-stage New Glenn rocket stands over 320 feet (98 meters), and will be capable of launching 45 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), according to the company’s website. New Glenn’s first stage is designed to be reusable, and is powered by seven powerful, Blue Origin-built BE-4 rocket engines. Two BE-4s also power the first stage of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which launched for the first time last month.

Related: ULA’s Vulcan rocket launches on debut flight (video)

Blue Origin, which was founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has been developing New Glenn for more than a decade, and has faced delays pushing the rocket’s original debut by more than three years. Now, with the booster simulator erect on the pad, Blue Origin’s goal of a launching in 2024 is one step closer to fruition.

Standing at Launch Complex 36, New Glenn’s tall, white body could be seen all the way from space.

A view of Launch Complex 36 from space, February 14, 2024. an aerial view from space, looking down at a marshland adjacent to a pale sea. amongst teh overbrush wetlands, straights are cut out branching to different points. the leftmost with several developments, a large white building, and a concrete clearing. a long dark shadow stretches from the clearing center. below, diagonal along the shore, three smaller concrete pads are found through the branching straits.

A view of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket standing upright at Launch Complex 36 as seen from from space on Feb. 14, 2024. (Image credit: Planet Labs/SpaceFromSpace)

Using SkySat C2, a satellite from Earth imaging company Planet, SpaceFromSpace captured the above high resolution picture of New Glenn standing at Launch Complex 36. Seen along the eastern shores of Cape Canaveral, New Glenn’s shadow stretches across the pad, towering over the nearby buildings.

SpaceFromSpace captured another satellite image using the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) of the Umbra-05 satellite. The black-and-white photo shows a tighter view of the launch complex, with the rocket and adjacent lightning towers seen in white.

an aerial view from space, looking down at a marshland adjacent to a dark sea. amongst the overbrush wetlands, straights are cut out branching to different points. a large building, and a concrete clearing. a long dark shadow stretches from the clearing center.

Umbra synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite image of Blue Origin’s Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Feb. 14, 2024. (Image credit: Planet Labs/SpaceFromSpace)

Back on Earth, NASA Spaceflight photographer Max Evans was also able to capture New Glenn standing at the launchpad. In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Evans wrote along with his accompanying photo, “we cannot wait to see you fly, New Glenn.”

We cannot wait to see you fly, New Glenn.📸 – @NASASpaceflight pic.twitter.com/neCY3ffTmdFebruary 14, 2024

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Indeed, a debut launch of New Glenn in 2024 would add to the growing list of private spaceflight activities ramping up on Florida’s Space Coast. The question remains, however, when New Glenn will get its wings after more than a decade of development.

The rocket’s two stages were joined together for the first time earlier this year, but its debut flight been pushed back multiple times.

The eventual first flight will loft NASA’s two-spacecraft EscaPADE (Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers) Mars mission. Liftoff is currently scheduled for August 2024.

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Josh Dinner is Space.com’s Content Manager. He is a writer and photographer with a passion for science and space exploration, and has been working the space beat since 2016. Josh has covered the evolution of NASA’s commercial spaceflight partnerships, from early Dragon and Cygnus cargo missions to the ongoing development and launches of crewed missions from the Space Coast, as well as NASA science missions and more. He also enjoys building 1:144 scale models of rockets and human-flown spacecraft. Find some of Josh’s launch photography on Instagram and his website, and follow him on Twitter, where he mostly posts in haiku.

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