Friday, 20 October, 2017

Blue Origin Just Unveiled an Enormous Engine for Manned Missions

Blue Origin BE-4 rocket engine Amazon's Bezos tweets out photos of new rocket engine
Heather Davidson | 08 March, 2017, 00:25

Jeff Bezos introduced the latest concept from his company Blue Origin at the Satellite 2017 conference, the New Glenn rocket, which features a reusable first stage.

Eutelsat had previously partnered with Facebook for the social network's internet connectivity project over Africa. Each of the rockets will be powered by seven of the company's BE-4 engines (the optional third stage will use a BE-3 engine), burning liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen. It's a major milestone for Blue Origin, which has been working on this crucial piece of hardware since 2011.

The target date for the first launch is around 2021, Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer said. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is expected to match Blue Origin's capacity (53 tons), whilst NASA's Space Launch System has been rumoured to be aiming for a 70 ton baseline, but will not be reusable.

Blue Origin's BE-4 engine in development to power the New Glenn rocket is scheduled to perform its full-scale hotfire test later this year at the company's remote West Texas test site.

"It's really a great partnership", he said of the contract with Eutelsat.

Like New Shepard, the New Glenn booster is created to fly itself back to Earth so it can be recovered and reflown, significantly slashing launch costs.

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Bezos said his goal was to lower the cost of flights so that millions of people can live and work in space.

Yesterday, Bezos showed the world the first fully assembled BE-4 engine. "Eutelsat has launched satellites on many new vehicles and shares both our methodical approach to engineering and our passion for driving down the cost of access to space". United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Blue Origin are teamed up to develop the new engine. They didn't specify a location for the launch, but a video released by Blue Origin shows a rocket taking off with a sketch of the company's rocket plant near Titusville in the foreground.

Another rocket has been teased, called the New Armstrong.

But the New Glenn may not be the only rocket sporting the BE-4 engine in the future. The Vulcan will be a successor to the Atlas V rocket, which has come under fire in recent years for using Russian-made RD-180 engines. Eutelsat said the New Glenn rocket will be compatible with virtually all its satellites, allowing it some flexibility in determining which satellite it would launch with Blue Origin.

The New Glenn will be able to carry around 100,000 pounds of payload to near-Earth orbit, and 29,000 pounds to geostationary orbit, Bezos says, and is projected to put out nearly 4 million pounds of thrust.

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