Just over a week after SpaceX's launchpad rocket failure, Blue Origin -- the aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos -- has revealed its ambitious plans to build two "New Glenn" launchers.
Both rockets will tower 84 feet over the Falcon Heavy rocket planned by SpaceX, a company run by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.
The largest of the two new rockets, called the "New Glenn 3-stage," is an enormous 23 feet in diameter (about half the length of a school bus),313 feet tall (close to the height of the Apollo moon rockets), and will spew out 3.85 million pounds of thrust -- about half as powerful as NASA's Saturn V launcher.
Unlike the Saturn V, however, Blue Origin plans to build on its rocket-recycling experience and reuse the giant first-stage booster of each launcher -- saving untold cash over multiple launches, since rocket boosters are normally trashed in the ocean.
Bezos, who kept a veil of secrecy around his rocket company for many years, has said he hopes to make space travel as routine as airplane flight. He's also compared typical non-reusable rockets to using a 747 to fly across the country once and then throwing the plane away.
Below is the full email that Bezos sent out Monday morning:
Our mascot is the tortoise. We paint one on our vehicles after each successful flight. Our motto is "Gradatim Ferociter" - step by step, ferociously. We believe "slow is smooth and smooth is fast." In the long run, deliberate and methodical wins the day, and you do things quickest by never skipping steps. This step-by-step approach is a powerful enabler of boldness and a critical ingredient in achieving the audacious. We're excited to give you a preview of our next step. One we've been working on for four years. Meet New Glenn:
Building, flying, landing, and re-flying New Shepard has taught us so much about how to design for practical, operable reusability. And New Glenn incorporates all of those learnings.
Named in honor of John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, New Glenn is 23 feet in diameter and lifts off with 3.85 million pounds of thrust from seven BE-4 engines. Burning liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen, these are the same BE-4 engines that will power United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan rocket.
The 2-stage New Glenn is 270 feet tall, and its second stage is powered by a single vacuum-optimized BE-4 engine. The 3-stage New Glenn is 313 feet tall. A single vacuum-optimized BE-3 engine, burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, powers its third stage. The booster and the second stage are identical in both variants.
We plan to fly New Glenn for the first time before the end of this decade from historic Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. New Glenn is designed to launch commercial satellites and to fly humans into space. The 3-stage variant - with its high specific impulse hydrogen upper stage - is capable of flying demanding beyond-LEO missions.
Our vision is millions of people living and working in space, and New Glenn is a very important step. It won't be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that's a story for the future.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.