Capitalism in space: Tory Bruno, the CEO of ULA, revealed yesterday that Blue Origin will finally deliver two flightworthy BE-4 engines for ULA’s Vulcan rocket this coming summer.
ULA, the Pentagon’s top launch contractor for national security satellites, had initially expected the shipment in 2020 for a debut flight in early 2021, but this was delayed by development hurdles.
The installation of Blue Origin’s reusable BE-4 engines into ULA’s next-generation Vulcan rocket will keep it on track for the debut launch of a moon lander dubbed Peregrine at the end of 2021, ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno said. The Vulcan rocket has won a slate of key U.S. defense missions through 2027.
“That is now our expectation, that Peregrine will go to space in the 4th quarter of 2021,” Bruno told reporters during a call on Thursday.
Peregrine is a commercial lunar lander being built by Astrobotic for NASA.
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It appears that ULA thinks the long delay in engine development and delivery from Blue Origin will not delay the planned first launch of Vulcan later in ’21. It appears their long range plan to recover and reuse these engines has caused them to design Vulcan so that they can easily swap out engines, which will allow them to complete that new rocket’s development with the test engines that Blue Origin has already provided, and then switch engines and launch within months.
During Bruno’s press briefing he also noted that they have done a thorough refurbish of the Delta launchpads and have instituted a new policy requiring regular launchpad dress rehearsals, in order to make sure the series of problems that delayed the launch of a Delta-4 Heavy earlier this year will not reoccur.
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