Blue Origin announced February 25 that it expected to launch the maiden flight of its New Glenn rocket in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The 98-meter heavy-lift New Glen rocket is powered by seven first-stage methalox BE-4 engines and two LH2/LOX second-stage BE-3U engines. The rocket is designed with a fully reusable first stage and the ability to carry up to 45,000 kilograms of cargo to low Earth orbit
Work on New Glenn began as early as 2012 with a public announcement of the project following four years later in September 2016.
In 2018, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith announced that the company expected to launch the maiden flight of New Glenn in 2021.
Today, the company revised the proposed launch date pushing it forward by a year. As a result, the New Glenn project is likely to have been under development for more than a decade before its maiden flight, longer than the Saturn V and Falcon 9 rockets combined.
According to Blue Origin, the delay of the maiden New Glenn flight is due to the vehicle not being selected to receive a US Space Force National Security Space Launch (NSSL) procurement contract.
Blue Origin along with Northrop Grumman, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance were all initially selected in October 2018 to compete for NSSL launch contracts. In August 2020, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance were selected to be eligible to receive national security launch contracts for the next five years, an arrangement that is potentially worth several billion dollars.
Earlier this year, Space Force officially ended its partnerships with Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman cutting off funding for their respective projects. Northrop Grumman has chosen to discontinue the development of its OmegaA vehicle while the Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin has chosen to continue development of New Glenn.