Recently, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin used modular transportation to install Project Jarvis’s first stainless steel in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The test tank was installed on the Complex 36 launch pad. The photo shows that the part is surprisingly similar to the storage tank in the prototype of Elon Musk’s SpaceX super-heavy rocket booster.
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Blue Origin is rapidly developing Project Jarvis, which aims to develop a fully reusable upper stage for the New Glenn rocket. A company spokesperson said this test tank may begin a series of tests as early as next month to determine its strength and ability to hold pressurized fuel.
Although Blue Origin has not publicly discussed details of the superior reusable plan for the New Glenn missile, sources said the company’s primary goal is to reduce the total launch cost of the New Glenn missile. The upper stage of the launch vehicle has a diameter of 7 meters, contains two BE-3U engines, and is very expensive. For Blue Origin to compete with SpaceX’s interstellar space launch system, making New Glenn fully reusable is essential.
Storage tank project testing is an important part of creating a reusable upper level, another aspect is the selection and finishing of the second level design. Both projects are working in Advanced Development Project Management at Blue Origin and are making progress.
The “Jarvis Project” includes storage tanks, intended to rapidly create prototyping propellant tanks to withstand the rigorous test of multiple launches and returns. Blue Origin engineers are studying the use of stainless steel as a material for these tanks, just as SpaceX produces interstellar spacecraft and ultra-heavy boosters. Stainless steel is cheaper and more able to withstand atmospheric heating that re-enters the atmosphere, but its weight is about 5 times that of composite materials.
In order to move quickly and test whether SpaceX’s iterative design concept can be emulated, Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, has authorized the engineers who lead the “Jarvis Project” to innovate in an environment free of stringent management and paperwork processes. This prompted the rapid development of storage tanks research and development and sent them to the launch pad.
Meanwhile, another team has been studying three different ways to design and load aircraft, the source said. The first is to install a massive wing on the upper level, so that it looks and functions like a space shuttle, separates from the booster and transports the payload, and then returns to the runway.
The second method involves the use of the Aerospike engine, which acts as a heat shield upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This method has great potential, but it may require designing and building new engines, which would be an expensive and time-consuming process.
The third method is similar to SpaceX’s interstellar spacecraft concept: using a combination of flaps and thrust combustion to land the craft vertically. This appears to be the best option out of the three, and Blue Origin is expected to make a final decision before the end of this year.
But regardless of the final design, the fuel storage tanks in all three designs will be cylindrical, allowing the Jarvis Project team to continue developing its development plan. It is reported that the construction speed of this test tank is much faster than other Blue Origin projects, which may use rapid and frequent development to verify Bezos’ experiments.
“Bezos now wants to put a strong emphasis on ‘moving forward’ with our logo,” a source said of the Blue Origin slogan “Gradatim Ferociter” (Latin, which means step by step, to bravely move forward).
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