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Bezos could beat Musk, and NASA chooses Blue Origin

Bezos could beat Musk, and NASA chooses Blue Origin

Elon Musk recently said that after recent testing successes at SpaceX, he was confident his company would be able to land on Mars within “three or four years.” But now it looks like another company will be the “first.”

Race to Mars

The space race between tech billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos has had a new target for some time: Mars. It was announced at the beginning of the year that NASA had assigned Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin to the Mars “Escapade” mission.

Now there is new information published by NASA (via Space news). Blue Origin is tentatively expected to launch two small satellites to Mars as its first interplanetary payload aboard its upcoming New Glenn rocket, NASA has confirmed.

Escapade is classified as a Category D mission, meaning NASA considers it a low-priority but high-risk mission. NASA estimates the cost of the mission at $79 million, a relatively small amount compared to the billions it has spent on projects such as the space shuttle, the International Space Station, and the James Webb Space Telescope. Escapade is scheduled to launch in August 2024. “This is an incredibly ambitious first launch for New Glenn, and we greatly value this partnership,” said Bradley Smith, director of NASA’s Launch Services Office. Smith confirmed that the scheduled launch date also means that the mission will officially be New Glenn’s maiden flight.

But time is running out now. Bezos’ company still needs to assemble the rocket, which is 98 meters long and 7 meters wide, place it on the launch pad and complete all the necessary tests to be able to conduct the first training flights. You only have about nine months to do this if you want to meet the proposed deadline.
A chart of Mars, Saturn, Neptune and their partners: our distant neighbors from EarthMars, Saturn, Neptune and Co: our distant neighbors from Earth

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The first flight should take place in 2020

Blue Origin originally planned New Glenn’s maiden flight for 2020, but it is now more than three years behind schedule. Engineers revised the missile’s original design and changed its boosters and engines, which contributed to the delay.

New Glenn will be able to place payloads of more than 13 tons into geostationary transfer orbits, but it can also carry payloads farther into space.

Compared to its competitor SpaceX, New Glenn is more powerful than the Falcon 9, but less powerful than the Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. If New Glenn gets off the ground on schedule — which is currently highly unlikely — Jeff Bezos might be able to beat rival Elon Musk on the road to Mars.

summary

  • Musk plans to land on Mars in 3-4 years, and Bezos can predict that.
  • NASA entrusts Blue Origin with the “Escapade” mission.
  • Two Mars satellites are scheduled to be launched in 2024 with a New Glenn rocket.
  • Escapade is a high-risk, low-priority mission.
  • NASA estimates the cost of Escapade at $79 million.
  • New Glenn was scheduled to launch in 2020, but has now been postponed.
  • New Glenn may be more powerful than the SpaceX Falcon 9 but weaker than the Falcon Heavy.

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