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Bezos provides 1st BE-4 engine update in more than a year

Yesterday Jeff Bezos posted the first status update since last spring on the development of the BE-4 rocket engine by Blue Origin, posting one image and stating that the engine testing continues.

According to his post, the engine had just completed a full power test, and has been accumulating test time.

This update is very reassuring, especially following such a long period of silence, beginning in April 2018. Before that Blue Origin had provided somewhat regularly updates.

In reviewing my past posts, it appears that the updates more or less ceased once ULA announced its decision to use the BE-4 in its Vulcan rocket. I now suspect the earlier updates were aimed more at ULA than the public, and once the decision was made Blue Origin returned to its more traditional tight-lipped approach.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Edward

    Although the article and Instagram say that the testing continues and test time increases, they do not say how much testing and time has happened in the past sixteen months. Is this the first test since then?

    Also missing is whether the test plan and schedule will have the engine ready in time for 2021 rocket launches. The article assumes this, because the author thinks that “sharing a picture of the full-power firing … suggests that the test program is on track.

    Hopefully, they have been making steady progress and became less tight-lipped for some reason, such as pressure from a concerned public.

    I am continually amazed at how many people I come across who have been keeping some tabs on what is happening in space, especially where SpaceX is concerned. These are not space geeks, but everyday people who are just plain interested or even fascinated. Often times, they watch informative videos* on the topic of space and are aware that there are several companies working on space projects.

    *e.g. Curious Droid, Everyday Astronaut, and Vintage Space — and yes, I learned of all three of these channels from people I talked with.

  • Rod

    Hey Bob, take a bow. You go on the space show with David Livingston and drop a few choice words on how Blue is turning into that Virgin company and presto! Blue releases engine test pictures. The force is strong in this one.

  • Thank you Rod, but I’d be more impressed with my influence if this July 9 post by me on Behind the Black, “NASA begins the slow leak process prior to announcing new SLS delays,” was the direct cause for the management shake-up in NASA’s SLS program that occurred two days later on July 11.

  • Diane Wilson

    And Blue could have been prompted by the very public progress SpaceX is making with Raptor.

    I’ll be impressed when it flies.

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