For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Blue Origin is moving closer to the maiden launch of their commercial New Glenn orbit class rocket following delivery of the pathfinder mockup booster to the firms launch facility at pad 36 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in mid-November.
The pathfinder simulator booster known officially as GS-1 was transported horizontally from Blue Origins massive manufacturing facility just outside the gates of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on a multi-wheeled wheeled transporter several miles to the firms sprawling Launch Complex-36 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Nov. 11.
Blue Origin is founded and funded by billionaire Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon.com and the worlds richest or maybe second richest man after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and a fierce rocket launch competitor!
— Ken Kremer (@ken_kremer) November 11, 2021
Enjoy our eyewitness photos of the GS-1 pathfinder move taken on Nov. 11 by the Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright – as the mock-up booster was about to pass through the gate leading into KSC and gliding by a full scale replica of NASA’s Mercury-Redstone rocket that launched Americas first astronauts to space.
The GS-1 pathfinder is a full-scale mockup of the separable aft, mid and forward modules of New Glenn.
The four forward fins seen in the photos are “actuated aerodynamic control surfaces” that can be adjusted and moved for the controlled descent and landing of the first stage post launch.
The two wing like strakes will provide “lift and cross range for the reusable first stage as it flies back to Earth.”
This non-flight mockup simulates the mass, center of gravity, outer mold line and external interfaces of the New Glenn rocket flight modules.
The massive first stage measures 189 feet (57.5 m) tall with a diameter of 7 m (23 ft).
“The #NewGlenn GS1 simulator is on the move to LC-36. The simulator consists of separable aft, mid, and forward modules, which emulate the mass, center of gravity, outer mold line and external interfaces of the flight modules,” tweeted Blue Origin.
The #NewGlenn GS1 simulator is on the move to LC-36. The simulator consists of separable aft, mid, and forward modules, which emulate the mass, center of gravity, outer mold line and external interfaces of the flight modules. pic.twitter.com/b8Uexop2y7
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) November 11, 2021
The GS-1 New Glenn pathfinder simulator will be used for fit checks and mission operation tasks by technical crews to practice ground operations at pad 36 as well as simulations for launch pad preparations and rocket rollout, integration and launch processing.
“This 1:1 pathfinder will be utilized for several mission operations tests including route verifications, recovery & refurbishment simulations, stage mate simulations and vehicle rollout at the pad. All these operations tests are moving #NewGlenn closer to first flight,” tweeted Blue Origin with a video of the transport to pad 36.
This 1:1 pathfinder will be utilized for several mission operations tests including route verifications, recovery & refurbishment simulations, stage mate simulations and vehicle rollout at the pad. All these operations tests are moving #NewGlenn closer to first flight. pic.twitter.com/gDuF2U8iuQ
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) November 17, 2021
New Glenn is named after pioneering NASA astronaut John Glenn, 1st American to orbit Earth in 1962.
New Glenn is a two stage rocket standing 322 feet (98 m) tall with a diameter of 7 m (23 ft).
The reusable first stage is powered by seven BE-4 engines that can generate about 3.8 million pounds of liftoff thrust
The New Glenn rocket is designed to launch payloads over 13 metric tons to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and 45 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO).
As #NewGlenn makes progress towards first flight, testing with the GS1 simulator will enable the team to practice ground ops for New Glenn’s massive first stage including the transport from the rocket manufacturing complex to LC-36 for integration. pic.twitter.com/IFg2lqjHWo
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) November 8, 2021
The BE-4 engines are fueled by methane (LNG) and Liquid oxygen (LOX) and are also being designed and manufactured by Blue Origin.
“New Glenn is a single configuration heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of carrying people and payloads routinely to Earth orbit and beyond from pad 36 on CCSFS.”
First flight of the New Glenn rocket has been delayed multiple times to now no earlier than (NET) fourth quarter 2022.
One of the main problems for the delay is that its taken much longer than expected to complete the design, development, testing and manufacture of the BE-4 engines.
The first stage of ULA’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket will also by powered by Blue Origins BE-4 engines.
ULA’s Vulcan Centaur maiden mission has been likewise delayed by the BE-4 engine development delays
New Glenn is being developed with a reusable first stage built for 25 missions.
Blue Origin plans to land the first stage on a droneship at sea – similarly to SpaceX which has done so over 87 times.
“New Glenn will build a road to space,” says Blue Origin.
Launch Complex-36 is still under construction.
The Mercury-Redstone rocket launched the first American into space – namely Alan Shepard in 1961.
Shepard also serves as the namesake for Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital class rocket that has successfully launched two tourist flights to the edge of space this year – including with Jeff Bezos and William Shatner.
Jeff Bezos himself flew on the first New Shepard suborbital human passenger trip to the edge of in July.
Alan Shepard’s oldest daughter Laura Shepard Churchley will fly as a guest on the next New Shepard flight to the edge of space on Dec. 9
Ken’s commentary about the Blue Origin GS-1 pathfinder was featured on WFTV ABC News Orlando on Nov. 23
Ken’s commentary about the booming commercial space business on the Florida Space Coast was featured on Fox 35 Orlando
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Blue Origin, DART, SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, Lucy Asteroid mission, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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