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The competition heats up: Jeff Bezos has released an update on Blue Origin’s test program of its BE-4 rocket engine, being built as a possible replacement for the Russian engines in the Atlas 5.
Bezos’s final comment kind of explains why Boeing has favored them over Aerojet Rocketdyne for this engine:
One of the many benefits of a privately funded engine development is that we can make and implement decisions quickly. Building these two new test cells is a $10 million commitment, and we as a team made the decision to move forward in 10 minutes. Less than three weeks later we were pouring the needed three-foot thick foundations. Private funding and rapid decision making are two of the reasons why the BE-4 is the fastest path to eliminate U.S. dependence on the Russian-made RD-180.
I imagine however a lot of Congressmen are upset by this. If they do it too cheaply or too quickly there will be far less opportunity to spend pork in their districts!