Privately funded aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company, Blue Origin is to use a Ro-Ro ferry previously owned by Stena Line as a space rocket landing pad.
Founded by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos in 2000, Blue Origin will be using the 11,000 tonne ferry to recover the first-stage section of the spacecraft's rocket boosters.
Space agencies such as NASA and ESA have historically used disposable rockets, allowing them to burn up in the atmosphere after successful transferring the payload into orbit. Blue Origin will be taking a similar approach to their competitor, SpaceX, by landing the expensive boosters so that they can be reused.
Purchased in August, Stena Freighter (previously operating on the Harwich - Rotterdam route) will be upgraded to not only act as a landing pad for rocket retrieval, but also as a way to transport the rocket components from the manufacturing site to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The first launch of the New Glenn orbital-class rocket is expected in 2021.
"Named after pioneering astronaut John Glenn, New Glenn is a single configuration heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of carrying people and payloads routinely to Earth orbit and beyond. Featuring a reusable first stage built for 25 missions, New Glenn will build a road to space.
New Glenn lifts off from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral. Following stage separation, the first stage flies back to Earth and lands nearly 1,000 km downrange on a moving ship, allowing the booster to land in heavy sea-states. The second stage engines ignite and the 7-meter fairing separates. The mission is complete when the payload is delivered safely to orbit."