Blue Origin receives first NASA contract for interplanetary mission

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Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin has won its first NASA contract for an interplanetary mission. The company will launch spacecraft to Mars late next year with the New Glenn rocket. With the contract, NASA wants to accelerate the development of rockets.

Blue Origin has previously flown missions for NASA using the New Shepard rocket, but the Escapade contract will be the first NASA mission using the New Glenn rocket, announced in 2016. The Escapade mission consists of two identical spacecraft that will study the magnetosphere of Mars. The goal is to better understand what influences solar winds have on the magnetosphere and how energy and plasma leave the magnetosphere.

The mission is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida at the end of 2024, with Escapade arriving at Mars eleven months later. After launch, the first stage of the New Glenn rocket must be reusable. The rocket is larger than SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy.

The Escapade contract is part of NASA’s Vadr plan, which uses new rockets for payloads that may carry greater risks compared to other payloads. NASA wants to speed up the development of new rockets and ultimately reduce the costs of launches.

The Escapade spacecraft

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