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Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin pushes huge rocket debut to 2022, blames Space Force

After losing out on a big military contract, the space startup is refocusing on commercial customers.

An artist's illustration of New Glenn preparing for launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Blue Origin

Hell hath no fury like the richest person in the world scorned. Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin announced Thursday that it's pushing back the debut date for New Glenn, its huge, heavy-lifting rocket, and it laid the blame for the delay in a flaming bag on the doorstep of US Space Force, the newest military branch. 

Blue Origin hoped to launch the vehicle, which is positioned as a reusable competitor to SpaceX's Falcon Heavy and Starship (although with far less payload capacity than Starship), by the end of this year. It now says the fourth quarter of 2022 is the new target.

In a statement Thursday, the company said "the schedule has been refined to match the demand of Blue Origin's commercial customers."

The statement goes on to explicitly note that this is because Blue Origin lost out on a big government contract. 

"This updated maiden flight target follows the recent Space Force decision to not select New Glenn for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 Launch Services Procurement (LSP)."

Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman were the losers in that four-way race announced last August. SpaceX and United Launch Alliance won two contracts, each worth over $300 million for multiple launches.

Just to make it clear Blue Origin is not thrilled with losing, it concludes the statement by pointing out it's invested a billion dollars in rebuilding Launch Complex 36, which is part of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The US Space Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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