A news release from Eutelsat said the new partnership with Blue Origin reflects its "longstanding strategy to source launch services from multiple agencies in order to secure access to space and partner with launch agencies that combine the highest levels of performance, flexibility and competitiveness".
Billionaire Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin LLC signed satellite operator Eutelsat Communications SA as its first paying customer as it prepares to launch more powerful rockets early in the next decade.
Eutelsat had previously partnered with Facebook for the social network's internet connectivity project over Africa. United Launch Alliance also plans to use BE-4 to power its new rocket, the Vulcan.
Blue Origin has been circulating a seven-page white paper to National Aeronautics and Space Administration leadership and Trump's staff about the company's interest in developing a lunar spacecraft to touch down near a crater on the moon's south pole, the Washington Post reported last week.
Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat CEO, said he expects the first satellite launch to take place in 2021. Eutelsat rented space on an Israeli satellite attached to the Falcon 9 rocket that exploded in September.
Blue Origin recently put its BE-4 liquid rocket engine on display. There will be two New Glenn rockets - a 2-stage and a 3-stage version. This morning, CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted out two pictures of the finished engine, noting that two more fully assembled BE-4s will be ready soon.
And these engines may power more than just Blue Origin's rockets. That's an important date, since USA law mandates that the government stop using Russian-built engines by 2019, and substantial business will likely flow to whatever company is ready to fill the void.
The New Glenn, named after astronaut John Glenn, is expected to compete with SpaceX's heavy-lift Falcon Heavy rocket, which is set to launch for the first time this summer. Blue Origin has started preliminary earthmoving work for a launch pad at Complex 36, a former Atlas rocket facility at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and plans to install an engine test stand at neighboring Complex 11. In the meantime, the BE-4 engine will undergo certification at Blue Origin's West Texas-based site.
New Glenn is a follow-on program to Origin's suborbital New Shepard launch system, a rocket and capsule created to fly payloads and passengers to about 62 miles above the planet.