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BE-4 engine delayed until ’22

Capitalism in space: The CEO of ULA, Tory Bruno, admitted yesterday that the first production versions of Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine, required for his company’s new Vulcan rocket, will not be delivered until until early ’22.

Bruno had previously said he expected the engines in late 2021 but on Friday he confirmed the BE-4s will not arrive until early 2022. “I was hoping to get those engines for Christmas. I had giant stockings at home waiting for them,” Bruno quipped in the CNBC interview.

“I’ll say it’s taking them a little longer to fabricate my production engines. They’re in the factory now being built at Blue Origin,” said Bruno. “The COVID epidemic has affected them and their supply chain and it’s just taking a little bit longer, but they’re doing very, very well,” he added. “There’s been no problems with them and in fact, we’re doing the final testing, or what we call certification testing. And that is just going really, really well.”

It appears that Blue Origin is dealing with the difficulties of production, not design, at this point, the same kind of issue that SpaceX recently revealed with its Raptor engine. Blue Origin needs to be able to manufacture these engines at a somewhat high pace, as both ULA’s Vulcan and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket use it. It appears that in designing it Blue Origin didn’t think about the manufacturing until very late in the game.

Bruno also said that he plans on flying Vulcan twice in ’22. We shall see.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Mike

    It appears Musk was 100% right when he said design is over rated and production is REALLY hard.

  • Col Beausabre

    I worked for a major computer company after leaving the Army and their policy was that manufacturing engineers were involved from Day 1 in the design of new hardware to avoid having R&D throw the design over the wall to Manufacturing and the later screaming “We can’t build that” (or at least at a cost that allowed it to be sold at a profit)

  • Jay

    My money is on a single flight during Q4 of 2022. He said “very, very” and “really, really” in his quote, definitely Q4 of 2022. We know ULA has a couple test article engines, but these are the production models that are being tested.

  • William

    Not holding my breath

  • pawn

    It takes A LOT of management talent to pull off design for manufacturability. Most of the time it’s just included as a bunch of buzzword salad in presentations. I’ve seen it work well and I’ve seen it attempted and failed and I’ve seen it ignored.

    It’s not for the feint of heart and it’s importance has to be learned the hard way. I’ve always said that designers are a dime a dozen, you need to know how to build something.

    Musk has it right for what he’s trying to do. He is also an iconoclast.

  • pzatchok

    In the end will NASA just offer to buy an engine off of Space X?

  • pawn observed: “It’s not for the feint of heart . . .” I believe that is ‘faint’. But, there are some possibilities, here. A misdirecting heart:? Fodder for country songs from Day 1, and a staple of the higher echelons of corporate and politics. Which, risky situations might be for the feint of heart, as they may (abnormally psychotically) may enjoy the challenge.

  • ‘pshycholigically’ Spell check and inattention.

  • Blair, it’s inevitable. It probably even has a name or rule number: Every internet post correcting someone else contains an error.

    Has this engine even been flight tested? New Glenn has not flown, has it?

  • Jay

    Nope. The only BE-4 engines that were used were the test articles on stands. The New Shepard the sub-orbital rocket has launched, but not New Glenn.

  • Jay

    I forgot to add, New Shepard uses the BE-3, not the BE-4.

  • pawn

    The Raptor is not for sale, not to NASA or the ULA. Think about it.

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