Author Topic: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation  (Read 20679 times)

Offline GWH

I think the sheer size of the New Glenn has taken pretty much everyone by surprise, with the expectation being for a single BE-4 SI and BE-3 SII.  So far there has been a lot of discussion so far on how this might serve the commercial launch market.  But what about Blue Origin's? What could they possibly need such a heavy lift for as a first step given their desire for space tourism in the near term?

They still list on the website that the New Glenn is intended to bring a capsule to orbit; previous indications were that it would be an average sized biconic capsule:   
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/cb/Blue_Origin_orbital_spacecraft.jpg/220px-Blue_Origin_orbital_spacecraft.jpg
But seems a lot has changed so why not speculate:

Possible Blue Origin payloads:
1. 3-stage rocket putting a 4-7 person capsule to lunar orbit or fly by for the space tourism market. It's been rumored that the capsule is not to be used for a BEO vehicle, and they have a 2 or 3 stage vehicle planned that , by thrust comes out to be about half the size of Saturn V.  A payload to TLI of about 20mT is probably pretty close to  its capability.  This one pretty well seems like a given but is a massive leap away from something as far out as LEO tourism.

2. 2-stage rocket launching a very large biconic capsule to LEO.  Fully loaded and massing as much as an empty shuttle orbiter (~70mt).  Rather than hope that the tourism market would be fulfilled by 5-7 tourists in a capsule paying $5-8M each they go big with the goal of 20-30 more paying $1-3M.  For this I would base speculation on the sheer size of the second stage engine. 550,000 lb thrust at sea level (~600,000 lb + in vacuum?).  Compared to the F9/FH Merlin Vac at 110,000 lb, or the J2-X at 294,000 lb, or (4) RL-10C engines at 100,000 lb, the second stage is a beast with limited use for smaller payloads.   

3. Initial flights are with a smaller 4-7 person capsule with a long duration habitat launched to LEO, perhaps these habitats are left in orbit to build up a hotel one piece at a time.  Later flights are to bring supplies.

4. There are no secretive plans to utilize this capacity, initial test flights of the BEO capsule are flown with a boiler plate or the BE-4 upper stage is capable of some very high throttling to keep g-forces down on any potential passengers.   They're building a lunar/deep space rocket and possibly hoping to replace the SLS.  Any potential customers for the 2-stage variant are just icing on the cake.

Anyone else care to speculate?

 
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 01:08 AM by GWH »

Online meberbs

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #1 on: 09/13/2016 04:11 AM »
I think they likely will do something like option 2 or 3 that you listed for a crew vehicle.

I am wondering if they might be able to launch a Bigelow BA 2100. They show what appear to be 5 m and 7 m fairings on the two stage and 3 stage rockets. They would need to develop at least an 8m as well to launch the BA 2100. Wiki lists the crew capacity of the BA 2100 as 16, and I am guessing the New Glenn's capsule could launch that many people at one go. They may even make a station of a couple BA 2100 hooked together in this case.

Note: This is my pure speculation, while I had foreknowledge of the size of this rocket, I do not know anything else about their forward plan at this point, and I am not likely to get such advanced knowledge again in the near future.

Offline Ludus

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #2 on: 09/13/2016 04:57 AM »
If SpaceX internet constellation is doing well in the 2020's there will a lot of demand for comparable Comsat launch that can compete with SpaceX internal costs. Amazon AWS is of course the leading player in Cloud computing infrastructure so might also choose to do this as an in house project directly going up against SpaceX.

Just as with the SpaceX constellation this could involve dozens of launches a year indefinitely to put up and constantly replace/upgrade thousands of Internet satellites.

Amazon is a giant global consumer brand so Space activities that generate halo publicity have much more potential benefit than for SpaceX per se (unless and until SpaceX launches ISP/Communication services as a consumer product).
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 05:27 AM by Ludus »

Offline Ludus

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #3 on: 09/13/2016 05:14 AM »
I think they likely will do something like option 2 or 3 that you listed for a crew vehicle.

I am wondering if they might be able to launch a Bigelow BA 2100. They show what appear to be 5 m and 7 m fairings on the two stage and 3 stage rockets. They would need to develop at least an 8m as well to launch the BA 2100. Wiki lists the crew capacity of the BA 2100 as 16, and I am guessing the New Glenn's capsule could launch that many people at one go. They may even make a station of a couple BA 2100 hooked together in this case.

Note: This is my pure speculation, while I had foreknowledge of the size of this rocket, I do not know anything else about their forward plan at this point, and I am not likely to get such advanced knowledge again in the near future.

The BA 2100 was just an arbitrary demo design. There could certainly be a version optimized for whatever New Glenn can effectively lift (eg a BA 1600) especially since space stations and manufacturing facilities fit the Blue Origin vision better than Spacex's.
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 05:29 AM by Ludus »

Offline sanman

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #4 on: 09/13/2016 07:21 AM »
So Robert Zubrin quickly tweeted this after Blue's announcement:

Quote
Here is my estimate of New Glenn performance. 70 tons to LEO, 20 tons to TMI. #Space #Science #Mars #MarsSociety





So he's saying the regular 2-stage New Glenn will send 70 tons to LEO, and the 3-stage version will send just over 20 tons to Trans-Mars Injection.

That compares against Falcon Heavy's 54 tons to LEO, and 13.6 tons to Trans-Mars Injection.

Still doesn't tell us who's cheaper.

« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 07:22 AM by sanman »

Offline TrevorMonty

Sticking with Blue incremental approach, a 7 crew LEO capsule is likely first followed by a larger capsule that uses fully RLV payload capability.

 Question is how well do biconic capsules scale, I thought normal capsules don't scale up well.  Wings definitely do ie shuttle but that is not Blues area of expertise.

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Online AncientU

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #6 on: 09/13/2016 11:54 AM »
Perfect launcher for Dream Chaser... instant orbital tourism.  Buy a dozen or so copies and you're in business.

I don't expect to see a fleet of capsules parachuting into the desert -- landing will be pinpoint and turn-around rapid which can only be provided by Dream Chaser or a Dragon-like reentry scheme.  Amazon doesn't print its own books or fabricate it's products, so Bezos might not build all of his own hardware.
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Offline Nibb31

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #7 on: 09/13/2016 12:25 PM »
Perfect launcher for Dream Chaser... instant orbital tourism.  Buy a dozen or so copies and you're in business.

I don't expect to see a fleet of capsules parachuting into the desert -- landing will be pinpoint and turn-around rapid which can only be provided by Dream Chaser or a Dragon-like reentry scheme.  Amazon doesn't print its own books or fabricate it's products, so Bezos might not build all of his own hardware.

If it's scaled for 12 flights per year, you don't necessarily need fast turnaround.

Online AncientU

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #8 on: 09/13/2016 01:01 PM »
Perfect launcher for Dream Chaser... instant orbital tourism.  Buy a dozen or so copies and you're in business.

I don't expect to see a fleet of capsules parachuting into the desert -- landing will be pinpoint and turn-around rapid which can only be provided by Dream Chaser or a Dragon-like reentry scheme.  Amazon doesn't print its own books or fabricate it's products, so Bezos might not build all of his own hardware.

If it's scaled for 12 flights per year, you don't necessarily need fast turnaround.

The initial ask at the Cape is for one flight per month.  Nothing limits the number of launch sites or the pace of flights to that 'down payment.' 

Bezos isn't imagining millions of people in space at 12 launches per year.  (IMO, he's thinking of daily or more frequent flights at some point down the road, just as SpaceX is envisioning.)

Note: If that is hard to imagine, remember that today sixth graders have smart phones and several million people per day fly across the continent; a hundred years ago, only a few people had experienced powered flight, and the rotary dial telephone wasn't yet invented/sold.  Steam powered auto-mobiles were being overtaken by those powered by internal combustion engines as the Model-T ramped up in production.
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 01:24 PM by AncientU »
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Offline mfck

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #9 on: 09/13/2016 02:19 PM »
Perfect launcher for Dream Chaser... instant orbital tourism.  Buy a dozen or so copies and you're in business.

I don't expect to see a fleet of capsules parachuting into the desert -- landing will be pinpoint and turn-around rapid which can only be provided by Dream Chaser or a Dragon-like reentry scheme.  Amazon doesn't print its own books or fabricate it's products, so Bezos might not build all of his own hardware.
Isn't it oversized for DC, thus being pricier than a appropriately sized LV, e.g. non-perfect?

Also, I doubt BO would outsource the most critical HSF component, which the crew carrying spacecraft is, to another vendor. The management, testing and integration overhead would seem prohibitive, or at least non-optimal for BO.

Offline Ludus

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #10 on: 09/13/2016 03:58 PM »
Perfect launcher for Dream Chaser... instant orbital tourism.  Buy a dozen or so copies and you're in business.

I don't expect to see a fleet of capsules parachuting into the desert -- landing will be pinpoint and turn-around rapid which can only be provided by Dream Chaser or a Dragon-like reentry scheme.  Amazon doesn't print its own books or fabricate it's products, so Bezos might not build all of his own hardware.

If it's scaled for 12 flights per year, you don't necessarily need fast turnaround.

The initial ask at the Cape is for one flight per month.  Nothing limits the number of launch sites or the pace of flights to that 'down payment.' 

Bezos isn't imagining millions of people in space at 12 launches per year.  (IMO, he's thinking of daily or more frequent flights at some point down the road, just as SpaceX is envisioning.)

Note: If that is hard to imagine, remember that today sixth graders have smart phones and several million people per day fly across the continent; a hundred years ago, only a few people had experienced powered flight, and the rotary dial telephone wasn't yet invented/sold.  Steam powered auto-mobiles were being overtaken by those powered by internal combustion engines as the Model-T ramped up in production.

12 Flights a year is also what the SpaceX filed for at Boca Chica and nobody thinks that's their long term planned limit either.

Online Lars-J

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #11 on: 09/13/2016 04:03 PM »
So Robert Zubrin quickly tweeted this after Blue's announcement:

Quote
Here is my estimate of New Glenn performance. 70 tons to LEO, 20 tons to TMI. #Space #Science #Mars #MarsSociety





So he's saying the regular 2-stage New Glenn will send 70 tons to LEO, and the 3-stage version will send just over 20 tons to Trans-Mars Injection.

That compares against Falcon Heavy's 54 tons to LEO, and 13.6 tons to Trans-Mars Injection.

Still doesn't tell us who's cheaper.

And I'm not sure he takes into account the margins needed for reusability. (at least there is no mention of it) I suspect his numbers are on the optimistic side, but I haven't run any numbers myself.

Offline GWH


Isn't it oversized for DC, thus being pricier than a appropriately sized LV, e.g. non-perfect?

Exactly - New Glenn is far larger than what is required for Dream Chaser or commercial crew vehicles or any vehicles of equivalent size.  70mT to LEO, even if one assumed a 30% penalty to booster reuse that is still 49mT to LEO -  triple what is required for an equivalent sized vehicle.
Unless BO's end goal is for a fully reusable upper stage with the expendable being an interim step and anticipating a whopping 70% payload hit on that 49mT number for a 16mT LEO launcher.... they must be planning for something larger than a 7 person CC sized vehicle or not even bothering with LEO base space tourism.  Otherwise why not at least propose a BE-3 based upper on the 2 stage rocket - it would be more than sufficient.

Regarding costing, I believe ULA had quoted that a pair of BE-4's would cost them $18M (someone correct me if I'm wrong please).  So for the New Glenn booster there is 7 engines with a "market" value of $63M, or $2.52M per flight at a total of 25 uses assuming zero refurb.  And then a disposable upper stage BE-4, with a "$9M" engine - although I'm sure Blue Origin has a mark up on it's actual cost to produce.  Getting acceptable operational cost for tourism if they are only taking up 7 people at a time would be tough there.

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #13 on: 09/13/2016 04:23 PM »
My guess is that the spacecraft will be able to preform "demanding beyond-LEO missions" like the BE-3 upper stage is being designed to support. I bet that it will be sized to whatever amount of mass New Glenn can throw through TLI. I doubt that Blue would adopt a spacecraft design that is limited to LEO, and specifically LEO reentry velocities.

Offline shooter6947

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #14 on: 09/13/2016 04:36 PM »
They might be intended to use the 3-stage version for robotic lunar prep.  It would seem that they plan a larger rocket for sending people/tourists to the Moon ("New Armstrong").  But until then they need to send lunar surface habs, remote bulldozers, and such to emplace the systems that those future missions will need.   Kind of maybe like how SpaceX is sending Red Dragons to Mars on FH before they send people on BFR/BFS.

Online AncientU

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #15 on: 09/13/2016 04:36 PM »
My guess is that the spacecraft will be able to preform "demanding beyond-LEO missions" like the BE-3 upper stage is being designed to support. I bet that it will be sized to whatever amount of mass New Glenn can throw through TLI. I doubt that Blue would adopt a spacecraft design that is limited to LEO, and specifically LEO reentry velocities.

This probably is not a maximum-performance-based design decision, it is a marketing decision.  The max capability of the vehicle will be used for BEO at some point, but not at first.  Bezos in the business of selling rides.

Where are the customers with cash in hand?  That is where Blue will be found.
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Offline LouScheffer

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #16 on: 09/13/2016 05:52 PM »
So Robert Zubrin quickly tweeted this after Blue's announcement:
[...]

So he's saying the regular 2-stage New Glenn will send 70 tons to LEO, and the 3-stage version will send just over 20 tons to Trans-Mars Injection.


And I'm not sure he takes into account the margins needed for reusability. (at least there is no mention of it) I suspect his numbers are on the optimistic side, but I haven't run any numbers myself.
Seems very optimistic to me.  ULA says the ISP of BE-4 will not quite reach RD-180 levels, which are 311 at sea level and 338 in vacuum.  Zubrin is using numbers that are much higher, so the payload will be quite a bit lower if the ULA numbers are correct - and since they are designing a rocket around the engine, surely they have realistic numbers.

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #17 on: 09/13/2016 06:59 PM »
My guess is that the spacecraft will be able to preform "demanding beyond-LEO missions" like the BE-3 upper stage is being designed to support. I bet that it will be sized to whatever amount of mass New Glenn can throw through TLI. I doubt that Blue would adopt a spacecraft design that is limited to LEO, and specifically LEO reentry velocities.

This probably is not a maximum-performance-based design decision, it is a marketing decision.  The max capability of the vehicle will be used for BEO at some point, but not at first.  Bezos in the business of selling rides.

Where are the customers with cash in hand?  That is where Blue will be found.
I think Bezos's sights are set higher than LEO. I don't see how you get thousands living and working in space just by developing a large taxi for tourists to a space hotel in low orbit. That might be a stop along the way towards the end goal, but space tourism is not Blue's reason for existence. I know Bezos hinted at an even larger New Armstrong rocket but the New Glenn is just way bigger than necessary to send a dozen people into space or assemble a space station in LEO. Given the size of New Glenn and it's high performance upper stage it makes sense that they will at least use it to get started with their BEO plans. So the crew vehicle then won't use a design that dead ends in LEO even if it isn't their ultimate BEO craft. My guess is no wings, solar powered not exclusively batteries, and significant deltaV capability. SpaceX designed Dragon with an eye to BEO from the start. I'd expect Blue to do the same.

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #18 on: 09/13/2016 07:22 PM »
It depends on what BO views as the bulk of people they intend to put into space in the next 20 years. If it's astronauts/workers than a capsule design seems most likely on cost. If its tourists then a winged design seems more likely as your average space tourists will tend to be of.... advanced years, and not necessarily up to a higher G reentry.

Offline Oli

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Re: Blue Origin's New Glenn Payload/Capsule Speculation
« Reply #19 on: 09/13/2016 07:49 PM »
So Robert Zubrin quickly tweeted this after Blue's announcement:

Quote
Here is my estimate of New Glenn performance. 70 tons to LEO, 20 tons to TMI. #Space #Science #Mars #MarsSociety





So he's saying the regular 2-stage New Glenn will send 70 tons to LEO, and the 3-stage version will send just over 20 tons to Trans-Mars Injection.

That compares against Falcon Heavy's 54 tons to LEO, and 13.6 tons to Trans-Mars Injection.

Still doesn't tell us who's cheaper.

Where are the gravity/drag losses? These specs give me 71.3t to LEO with 8.5km/s delta-v but ~42t with a realistic ~9.5km/s (2-stage version).

The specs of the first stage are pretty bad so I guess they include reusability somehow..(?).

The T/W ratio of the 3-stage Glenn at liftoff would be less than 1.1.

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