Jeff Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, had intended to use a former Stena ro/ro cargo ship as their landing pad, but those plans were reportedly abandoned because they would have been too expensive to carry out. The corporation has chosen to stop using the ship that Jeff Bezos had given the new name Jacklyn in honor of his mother, as was first reported by CNN Business.
Linda Mills, a representative for the rocket business, is quoted in the article as saying, “Blue Origin might still use the ship for another purpose or cancel the project entirely.” She stated to CNN that the company is “currently evaluating possibilities.”
The 10,000 dwt ro/ro cargo ship Stena Freighter was acquired by Bezos’ company, it was announced in the fall of 2018. Construction on the 600-foot-long vessel began in 1997, but it wasn’t put into service until 2004 due to issues with the shipyard. Due to the holdups in construction, Stena’s chartering of the ship to serve the British Ministry of Defense fell through. Before announcing the sale in August 2018, the Scandinavian ferry firm had run the ship for 14 years on several routes, usually in the North Sea or Baltic.
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Blue Origin planned to modify the vessel by adding a sizable platform so that the orbital rocket New Glenn could land there after launch. The idea is to reuse the first-stage rockets, much like SpaceX, to reduce the cost of space operations. Blue Origin revealed plans to deploy the big ro/ro into the Atlantic to carry out a similar operation, while SpaceX has successfully utilized smaller drone barges to land its rockets.
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In December 2020, Jeff Bezos announced that he had surprised his mother by christening the ship in her honor. In Pensacola, Florida, the Jacklyn has been spotted while undergoing minor conversion work. The stern had been changed from being a ro/ro ramp to a solid steel component, according to an image from 2021. The vessel’s current condition and the extent of the upgrades are unknown.
According to CNN, Blue Origin has decided to investigate other “cost-effective” options for its rocket recovery technology.
Blue Origin has stated that it now intends to launch its first orbital rocket by the end of 2022, years behind schedule. Despite having only conducted a small number of suborbital tourist flights, they have already been awarded contracts to carry satellites and cargo into space.