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Blue Origin reveals full throttle long duration test of its BE-4 engine

Capitalism in space: Jeff Bezos today revealed that Blue Origin has successfully completed a full throttle long duration test of its BE-4 engine to be used by both its New Glenn Rocket and ULA’s Vulcan rocket.

“Perfect night,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who created the Blue Origin space venture more than two decades ago, wrote in an Instagram post. “Sitting in the back of my pickup truck under the moon and stars, watching another long-duration, full-thrust hot-fire test of Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine.”

The post featured a shot of Bezos and other spectators looking on at the rising rocket plume from afar, as well as a video with closer perspectives of the firing.

The company has delivered two engines to ULA designed for ground testing, and says it will deliver soon the flight ready engines for Vulcan’s first launch later this year. Blue Origin also needs to get flight ready engines finished this year for New Glenn, which is also supposed to make it inaugural flight in ’21.

Personally, I think both Blue Origin and ULA are cutting it close. I will not be surprised if this tight schedule means that the first launches of both rockets get delayed into ’22.

Nonetheless, it is great news that the BE-4 appears to finally working as planned after what appeared to be problems for the past few years.

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.


  • V-Man

    Even if New Glenn and Vulcan fly perfectly (not proven yet, especially the recovery part), if they can’t mass-produce the BE-4 they’re not catching up to SpaceX any time soon. Especially if the latter starts mass-producing Raptors and Spaceships alike.

  • geoffc

    @V-Man – that was my thought… Vulcan needs 2 per flight, at most 10 flights a year. New Glenn will use 5 or 7 on the first stage I think. But reusable so not that many…

    How many can they make a year?

    SpaceX Is aiming for hundreds of Raptors a year. Good job SpaceX.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I wonder if SpaceX will attempt to ramp up production to 500 or more Raptors / year in-house, or outsource to a company more accustomed to serious mass-production, such as a Japanese automaker. After all, assuming 50 Raptors per SS/SH (with spares) that is only 10 ship-sets per year.

    The question might boil down to whether it is possible to keep your design secrets from the Chinese if you outsource… or even if you don’t!

  • wayne

    “Sitting in the back of my pickup truck….”

    Awe shucks, Jeffie is just a good ol’ boy, one of us, a billionaire of the People, keeping Hope & Change alive in obama’s Amerika.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I think that should be “Aw, shucks”. But Jeff would no doubt prefer “Awe, shucks”.

  • Jeff Wright

    Bezos has the money to sink into finishing M-1.. a big hydrogen engine. That’s what I want to see.

  • Diane Wilson

    Ray, SpaceX will not outsource Raptor production. Musk has been very clear that he is designing manufacturing for Raptors at the same time they design Raptor itself. They have also mass-produced Merlin engines at a rate of several hundred a year, and Starlink satellites at 120 per month. SpaceX views outsourcing as risky and as loss of control.

  • wayne

    “I’m going to get me a beer…”
    Elizabeth Warren

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