Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin released details Monday about its new heavy-lift rocket, which it calls "New Glenn," a nod to astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth.
Two versions of New Glenn are planned, both of which use seven of the company's BE-4 engines, which are currently under development. The 270-foot-tall New Glenn includes a second stage powered by a single BE-4 engine that has been modified to work in the vacuum of space. The 313-foot tall, three-stage New Glenn includes an upper-stage "vacuum optimized" BE-3 motor, similar to what the company is now flying on its New Shepard suborbital launch system.
RELATED: Blue Origin Capsule Lands Safely, Sans One Parachute
Like New Shepard, Blue intends for New Glenn to be reusable, with the first stage boosters touching down on a landing pad similar to how SpaceX has been retrieving its Falcon 9 rocket's first stage.
"Building, flying, landing, and re-flying New Shepard has taught us so much about how to design for practical, operable reusability. And New Glenn incorporates all of those learnings," Bezos wrote in a statement.
"We plan to fly New Glenn for the first time before the end of this decade from historic Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, Fla.. New Glenn is designed to launch commercial satellites and to fly humans into space," Bezos said.
RELATED: How to Fly Rockets Back to Earth
New Glenn lifts off with 3.85 million pounds of thrust. NASA's Apollo-era Saturn moon rocket, by comparison, had a liftoff thrust of 7.5 million pounds. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, which had been slated to debut before the end of the year, has a liftoff thrust of 5.1 million pounds, the company's website shows.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk plans to announce details of an even bigger rocket later this month. New Glenn also is not the end of the line for Blue Origin.
"Our vision is millions of people living and working in space, and New Glenn is a very important step. It won't be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that's a story for the future," Bezos wrote.
WATCH VIDEO: Reusable Rockets