Amazon founder and space entrepreneur Jeff Bezos announced March 7 that commercial satellite operator Eutelsat will be the first paying customer for his next-generation reusable rocket, which is named after his boyhood hero, Mercury astronaut John Glenn.
New Glenn is the next step up for Bezos' Blue Origin space company, which has already conducted five launches of its first generation New Shepard reusable rocket, named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard.
Bezos, speaking at the Satellite 2017 show in Washington, D.C., said the ultimate goal of the program is to dramatically reduce the cost of launching objects into space. "And we're not going to stop until we get there," he said.
Bezos debuted an animated video of New Shepard, which will be more powerful and will be able to carry larger payloads, than its predecessor. The rocket will be capable of launching communications satellites when configured with three stages, he said. Its first stage will return to Earth, where, unlike New Shepard, it will land on a moving ship rather than a remote desert. New Shepard lands on a pad in West Texas.