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Wed, May 17, 2017

BE-4 Rocket Test Temporarily Suspended

Bezos Says Testing Will Resume 'Soon'

Blue Origin has suspended testing on its BE-4 rocket engine after it lost a set of powerpack test hardware on one of the engine's test stands Saturday.

In a message posted to Twitter, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that the loss is only a temporary setback in the program. "That's why we always set up our development programs to be hardware rich. Back into testing soon," he said on social media.

The BE-4 engine is being tested at the company's facility in west Texas. The powerpack is the component that supplies fuel and oxidizer to the engine's combustion chamber.

Geekwire reports that the BE-4 engine is central to Blue Origin's business model. It will power the company's New Glenn rocket, which will boost satellite payloads into orbit. It is also under consideration by Boeing for a proposed XS-1 military space plane.

But in the shorter term, the BE-4 engine is the top choice for the United Launch Alliance's Vulcan launch vehicle. Blue Origin is in competition with Aerojet Rocketdyne, which is developing the AR1 engine. 
While Aerojet Rocketdyne is a bit behind Blue Origin in development, the AR1 did pass a critical design review last week, according to Geekwire.

Both are kerosene-fueled engines, but the AR1 is a more traditional design. Blue Origin has been working on the engine for several years, with some investment from ULA but financed primarily by Bezos himself. The eventual contract could be worth billions of dollars to the company to which it is awarded.

(Image from file)



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