Blue Origin makes preparations for New Glenn testing at LC-36 before inaugural launch

Blue Origin, the aerospace manufacturer founded by Jeff Bezos, is making significant progress towards the launch of its orbital class rocket, New Glenn. The company has been conducting tests at Launch Complex 36 (LC-36) and has recently submitted plans for a refurbishment facility near the Cape Canaveral Skid Strip. This facility will play an important role in Blue Origin’s goal of establishing New Glenn as a reliable vehicle for the space industry.

The refurbishment facility, which covers a total of 58.8 acres, will be built on Central Control Road. It will include parking areas, stormwater retention areas, and a 20-acre space for future developments. The facility’s purpose is to refurbish launch vehicles and reuse existing components for rocket launches. Its proximity to LC-36, just a two-kilometer drive away, will streamline the refurbishment process and contribute to the efficiency of Blue Origin’s operations.

Blue Origin has been actively working on the production of New Glenn. In August, the company released a picture of its main production building at Exploration Park, showcasing a wide array of hardware, including tank sections, barrel sections, domes, engine/landing leg sections, and interstages. Additionally, a new video on the New Glenn section of Blue Origin’s website revealed a first-stage tank inside the Tank Cleaning and Testing Facility.

Jarrett Jones, a representative from Blue Origin, confirmed during a panel discussion at the World Satellite Business Week that the company currently has four boosters in different stages of production. Testing of these boosters is progressing well, indicating a positive outlook for the development of New Glenn.

In addition to production efforts, Blue Origin has been preparing LC-36 to support hardware testing. Recent tests have involved the main transporter erector, which will be used to support a fully stacked New Glenn, as well as a smaller transporter erector for testing the rocket’s second stage on the launch pad. Blue Origin has also established a new test site, known as the GS-1 Test Area, located to the east of the launch pad, specifically for testing first stage tanks.

The company’s Jarvis program, aimed at developing a reusable upper stage for New Glenn, has also seen recent progress. A second Jarvis tank, previously situated on the second-stage test stand at LC-36, was recently transported back to the production area. Blue Origin filed a patent application for a fully reusable upper stage design, similar to the Jarvis tanks, featuring a seven-meter width, an aerospike engine, and an actively cooled heat shield.

To ensure readiness for testing and flight, Blue Origin has set up simulators for all the components of a fully stacked New Glenn inside its hangar. These simulators will help familiarize teams with handling, assembling, and rolling out the rocket before actual flight hardware is available for integrated testing.

In early August, Blue Origin conducted a test fire of the BE-3U engine at Marshall Space Flight Center’s Test Stand 4670. This was the first test since the historic test stand was upgraded to support both BE-3U and BE-4 engines, which will be used by New Glenn. A video released by Blue Origin showcased both engines on the stand simultaneously.

Blue Origin’s progress towards the maiden flight of New Glenn is an exciting development in the space industry. With ongoing testing, production, and refurbishment efforts, the company aims to establish New Glenn as a reliable and reusable rocket, similar to SpaceX’s Falcon rockets. The proximity of the refurbishment facility to LC-36 and the establishment of test sites demonstrate Blue Origin’s commitment to efficient operations and continuous improvement in its pursuit of space exploration.