Jeff Bezos' new rocket has its first customer

See how Blue Origin's new rocket will fly
See how Blue Origin's new rocket will fly

Jeff Bezos' new rocket just scored its first customer.

The Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) founder announced Tuesday that his company Blue Origin has signed a deal with Eutelsat, a French company that operates communications satellites, to launch a satellite on a rocket by 2022.

Bezos and Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer revealed the contract at an aerospace convention in Washington.

The satellite will launch aboard New Glenn, a forthcoming Blue Origin rocket named after the late American astronaut John Glenn.

New Glenn will be Blue Origin's most powerful rocket to date, with plans for a version that will be able to reach above low Earth orbit, where the International Space Station now circles the planet. It is expected to start flights by 2020.

The company's existing rocket, New Shepard, makes only suborbital flights that reach just beyond the edges of Earth's gravity.

Bezos is among several high-profile executives who want to cheapen space flight and launch humans into space as part of private ventures. Tesla's (TSLA) Elon Musk and Virgin's Richard Branson are also pursuing ambitious space projects.

Related: Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin plans massive rocket for its first orbital flights

Musk's company, SpaceX, has partnered with Eutelsat. Eutelsat rented space on an Israeli satellite attached to the Falcon 9 rocket that exploded in September. Musk announced last week that SpaceX would send two space tourists around the moon in 2018.

Eutelsat said Tuesday that it has launched with several rocket companies, including Atlas, Delta and Proton. Arianespace, a French company, has launched half of Eutelsat's satellites.

"We were impressed by Blue Origin's industrial approach and are always looking for innovation in the industry that facilitates cost-efficient access to space," said Eutelsat spokeswoman Vanessa O'Connor.

Eutelsat will launch its next satellite at the end of April using an Ariane 5 rocket.

A representative for Blue Origin declined to provide further information about the arrangement, and instead referred CNNMoney to a tweet from Bezos about the deal.

--CNNMoney's Chris Isidore contributed to this story.

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