Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, recently announced its new and upcoming Swiss Army Knife spacecraft platform, the Blue Ring, which comes after very little public discussion of the project by Blue Origin. For example, the January 2023 story opened when Blue Origin briefly advertised a job posting for a senior Blue Ring program manager on its Careers page, but the job was terminated less than 24 hours later. In general, Blue Origin is pretty nonchalant about Blue Ring.
While the most recent announcement was brief, it conveyed how Blue Ring will aim to provide multiple services, including logistics, refueling and transportation, and is set to be part of a new Blue Origin business unit called In-Space. Systems. Blue Ring is believed to be able to carry more than 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds) of payload and can be flexible for both delta-V (velocity variation) and mission priorities. This means that the Blue Ring has the potential to operate anywhere from mid-Earth orbit, to lunar space (the area between Earth’s geostationary orbit and the Moon’s orbit) and beyond.
Blue Ring addresses two of the most pressing challenges in spaceflight today: growing space infrastructure and increasing on-orbit mobility, Paul Eberts, senior vice president of Blue Origins In-Space Systems, said in an official statement. We offer our customers the ability to easily access and maneuver through various orbits cost-effectively while accessing critical data to ensure a successful mission.
Blue Origin also suggested that Blue Rings’ size would allow it to fly with current rockets, including the Vulcan, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, as well as Blue Origins’ upcoming New Glenn rockets. The life expectancy of the Blue Ring is also estimated to be approximately five years, with the first launch expected to occur in 2025. The total dimensions of the blue ring have not been revealed, but the total distance of the solar arrays is estimated to be 44 meters. 144 feet).
Currently, the commercial market is still very much sending payloads and satellites into predictable orbits, said Lars Hoffmann, Blue Origin’s vice president of government sales, in a recent interview with Aerospace DAILY. Some new markets tend to be more dynamic. That’s one of the things that Blue Ring is really attuned to, it can do a lot of different things.
Given the project’s goals, the Blue Ring is classified as a space shuttle, a spacecraft designed to transport space cargo from one orbit to another, and is appropriate given its multi-role and delta-V capabilities. Several agencies and companies are currently developing space shuttle concepts, including NASA, Firefly Aerospace, Atomos Space, and Orbit Fab, just to name a few.
Blue Ring’s announcement comes as Blue Origin gears up for the aforementioned New Glenn rocket, which is currently scheduled for its first launch in 2024. It is also one of the largest rockets ever built at 98 meters (320 feet). ) tall, New Glenn is also slated to be reusable, as Blue Origin says its first stage is slated to launch for a minimum of 25 flights.
How will the Blue Ring contribute to the commercial space industry in the coming years and decades? Only time will tell and this is why we are science.
As always, keep doing science and keep looking!
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