New Blue Origin space platform to act as a cosmic multi-tool
Blue Origin has taken the wraps off Blue Ring, its multi-orbit, multi-mission space platform that will provide a wide variety of logistical services to commercial and government customers, from medium Earth orbit to interstellar space.
The next decade will see an explosion of satellites and space stations sent into Earth orbit and beyond, but like any boom the real challenge will be to develop the infrastructure to support such an endeavor.
A number of companies are working on service spacecraft to refuel or extend the life of satellites, but Blue Origin is taking this a step further by creating something of a Swiss Army knife of a craft that can handle multiple missions in multiple orbits.
Part of Blue Origin's new In-Space Systems business unit, Blue Ring is designed to deliver or host payloads of up to three tonnes. According to an interview with Lars Hoffman, Blue Origin vice president government sales, published in Aviation Week, the purpose is to create a multi-use platform that can act as a transport, data relay, logistical support craft, refueling tanker, and even a source of “in-space” cloud computing capability. In addition, Blue Ring can deliver satellites to or move them between multiple orbits as required.
To accommodate payloads, Blue Ring is equipped with an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) in both the 15-in (38-cm) standard ESPA configuration and the 24-in (61-cm) ESPA Grande. There is also a top deck for carrying larger payloads.
Depending on the size of the payload, the craft can move anywhere between medium Earth orbit to interstellar space. Propulsion is a combination of chemical thrusters for high acceleration and electric propulsion powered by solar arrays for high velocity.
According to Blue Origin, the Blue Ring can fit inside the launch fairing of a Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Vulcan, and New Glenn launcher. Once in orbit, it can function for five years before it needs refueling. The first launch is expected in 2025.
"Blue Ring addresses two of the most difficult challenges in spaceflight today: growing space infrastructure and increasing mobility on-orbit," said Paul Ebertz, Senior Vice President of Blue Origin’s In-Space Systems. "We're offering our customers the ability to easily access and maneuver through a variety of orbits cost-effectively while having access to critical data to ensure a successful mission."
Source: Blue Origin