Caleb Henry for SpaceNews:
New Glenn’s first launch is slated for late 2020, and is designed from the start to feature a reusable first stage. McFarland said most customers prefer a dedicated launch, rather than sharing a rocket with a co-passenger, but Blue Origin is preparing to have dual launch as an option for those seeking to split the price of a mission with another satellite operator.
With a direct to geosynchronous-orbit capability of 13 metric tons and a 7-meter payload fairing, McFarland said the dual launch ability will still be “a fairly significant achievement.” Blue Origin’s New Glenn mass and volume parameters are larger than that of Arianespace’s Ariane 5, International Launch Services’ Proton and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 — the main vehicles used for commercial satellite launch today.
Apparently, McFarland misspoke here. Thirteen metric tons is still the geosynchronous transfer orbit payload capacity.
Blue Origin’s McFarland said Blue Origin won’t let schedule disruptions with one payload impact the co-passenger in dual-launch missions, even if it means splitting the missions in two.
“We are not going to [let this] hold back or delay a launch,” he said. “We are going for a cadence of up to eight times per year where we will launch. If we don’t have a second, we still go as a single. So that’s the plan, [with] the same price point for the launch service for the customer.”
Blue seems to be trying really hard to limit the downsides of dual manifesting, and a single price for a ride to orbit no matter how you fly or when is a huge departure from the norm. It really only makes sense two ways: the entry price for a ride on New Glenn is shockingly low, or Blue will have no shortage of their own payloads to fly. Or both.
It’s always important to remember who is behind Blue Origin when you think about pricing. My gut says the prices for both New Shepard and New Glenn launches are going to be downright shocking when they’re finally made public. Operating with little-to-no margin and eating those costs to gain market share is the Bezos way.
But, Blue Origin’s vision is much more than launching satellites to transfer orbits, and New Glenn has always seemed sized for their own goals than their customers.