Founded by Elon Musk, SpaceX has always been in the headlines for carrying out many high-profile rocket launches. The company has its missions carried out in collaboration with NASA.
SpaceX has completely dominated the global space market with launches that not only have a high performance, but are also done at low costs using rockets that are reusable. The company today has almost $10billion worth of rocket launches that are already booked, along with what is possibly the world?s most powerful rocket that is operational. It has had its immense success mostly due to its 229-foot-tall Falcon 9.
One of SpaceX's biggest competitors is Blue Origin. Founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the company has been very public about its launch vehicle New Shepard along with its plans for the reusable New Glenn. It is reported that the New Glenn rocket system will have three rocket stages and could possibly make regular voyages not just to the moon but also to Mars.
Considering both SpaceX and Blue Origin are private aerospace companies founded by tech billionaires, there are questions being raised and comparisons being drawn to find out which is better. While both companies seem similar when you think about it, both have different goals that they are working towards.
On the one hand, SpaceX is aiming towards low-cost space flights, with the goal of launching human missions to Mars. On the other hand, Blue Origin is aiming towards sub-orbital space flights which would give passengers a change to experience the space and its wonders without leaving the Earth's atmosphere.
However, there are some similarities between them as well. The biggest similarity between both the companies is that both have been developing next generation engines, rockets and launch vehicles that are cost effective and reusable.
TYPES OF ROCKETS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Blue Origin just has the New Shepard in use as of now, which is a rocket that can reach an altitude of almost 62 miles above the surface of the Earth. It uses a rocket booster for propulsion to an altitude of 42 miles before the booster is dropped from the rocket into space. It is currently developing a significantly larger rocket called the New Glenn, which will target customers from civil, commercial or military industries and is expected to launch in 2020.
The ride in New Shepard was developed for entertainment purpose in order to provide an amazing experience to humans and therefore, it is not made exclusively for astronauts. Therefore, it can be said that Blue Origin is leading the path for a commercial spaceflight. SpaceX, on the other hand, has the Dragon 2 spacecraft, which can carry seven astronauts at a given point of time to and from the International Space Station. They generate their revenue by collaborating on contracts with NASA for supply to the International Space Station and by gaining contracts with other private companies to launch different satellites into the orbit.
When it comes to SpaceX?s Falcon 9 and Blue Origin?s New Shepard, the latter generates a propulsive force/thrust of about 110,000 pound as compared to the 1.3 million pounds of thrust generated by Falcon 9. This is because the Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket vehicle, while New
Shepard is a single-stage one. While New Shepard is smaller and lighter in addition to being cost-effective while building and launching, it is also less complicated to operate. In comparison, Falcon 9 is more expensive and has a lot of added features over its rival. Moreover, the Blue Origin?s rocket is designed for sub-orbital spaceflight, meaning that the rocket will reach space but will not be fast or high enough to place its spacecraft into the Earth?s orbit. Falcon 9 is meant to
launch payloads into the Earth?s orbit and beyond. This is precisely why the rocket is tall and thin in shape, which allows it to break free from the atmosphere easily and go into space. But this shape also makes it difficult for the rocket to land in an upright position on the surface of the Earth. Falcon 9 is very vulnerable to tilting and falling over. And while New Shepard is not designed to go as far above as its rival, it is doing exactly what it was designed to do. Because it does not need to reach the same altitudes as the Falcon 9, it does not need to be tall and thin. Therefore, it has a thicker and a shorter structure which helps the rocket to land vertically without causing
The only point in which Blue Origin could pose a threat to SpaceX is in the way both companies are funded. While the funding for the initial missions of SpaceX were incurred from Elon Musk himself, all the funding that followed were through contracts with the government as well as private investment rounds. On the contrary, every mission or development of Blue Origin is funded exclusively by Jeff Bezos.
As a result, this could affect the pricing of rockets and launching systems which could be more flexible in case on Blue Origin. Moreover, if the company decides to price New Glenn in an aggressive way, it could be a threat to Musk?s business strategy.
In conclusion, both the companies are different with different designs of their rockets, which rise right from their very different missions and goals for space. It is thus, important to see what the next generation of their rockets, namely New Glenn and BFR or Big Falcon Rocket will bring to the space market. Their configurations, structures and the technologies used to develop them will definitely be a game changer in the global space industry, with both companies bringing in their A-game. The question though, is whether Blue Origin and
SpaceX will be able to create fully reusable launchers at low costs, but with high reliability and performance which would be powerful in attaining their missions. If they do, they could both potentially change the course of human history.
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