Recently, the Blue Origin space company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (Jeff Bezos) used modular transportation to install the first stainless steel from Project Jarvis in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The test tank was installed on the Complex 36 launch pad. The photo shows that the part is strikingly similar to the storage tank in the prototype of the Elon Musk company’s SpaceX super-heavy rocket booster.
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Blue Origin is rapidly advancing the “Jarvis Project”, 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 next month to determine its strength and ability to contain pressurized propellant.
Although Blue Origin has yet to publicly discuss the details of the reusable top plan for the New Glenn rocket, sources said the company’s main goal is to reduce the overall cost of launching the New Glenn rocket. The upper stage of this launch vehicle is 7 meters in diameter, has two BE-3U engines, and is expensive. For Blue Origin to compete with SpaceX’s interstellar spacecraft launch system, making New Glenn fully reusable is essential.
Testing the storage tank project is an important part of creating a reusable upper tier. Another aspect is selecting and finalizing the second tier design. Both projects are operating in Blue Origin’s “Advanced Development Projects Department” and are moving forward.
The “Jarvis Project” includes storage tanks, which aims to rapidly prototype propellant storage tanks to withstand the ordeal of multiple launches and reentries. Engineers at Blue Origin are studying the use of stainless steel as a material for these tanks, just as SpaceX produces interstellar spacecraft and super-heavy thrusters. Stainless steel is cheaper and better able to withstand atmospheric warming re-entering the atmosphere, but its weight is roughly 5 times that of composite materials.
To move quickly and test whether SpaceX’s iterative design concept can be emulated, Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, empowered the engineers leading “Project Jarvis” to innovate in an environment free of strict management processes and paperwork. This prompted the rapid development of storage tank research and development and sent it to the launch pad.
The source said that at the same time, another team has been studying three different ways to design and load the aircraft. One is to install a huge wing on the upper level, so that it looks and functions like a space shuttle, separates from the thruster and carries the payload, and then returns to the runway.
The second method involves the use of the Aerospike engine, which acts as a heat shield when it returns to Earth’s atmosphere. This method has great potential, but may require the design and construction of new engines, which will be a costly and time-consuming process.
The third method is similar to SpaceX’s interstellar spacecraft concept: using a combination of flaps and propulsion combustion to land the vehicle vertically. This appears to be the best option among the three options, and Blue Origin is expected to make a final decision before the end of this year.
But regardless of the final design, the propellant storage tanks in all three designs will be cylindrical, allowing the “Project Jarvis” team to continue to advance their development plan. The construction speed of this test tank is reported to be much faster than other Blue Origin projects, which can use rapid and iterative development to verify Bezos’ experiments.
One source said of the Blue Origin motto “Gradatim Ferociter” (Latin, which means step by step, to advance boldly): “Bezos now wants to put a strong emphasis on ‘Advance’ in our motto.”
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