CENTENNIAL, Colo. and KENT, Wash., Sept. 10, 2015 (ULA/Blue Origin PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA), the nation’s premier space launch company, and Blue Origin, LLC, a privately-funded aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, announced today the signing of an agreement to expand production capabilities for the American-made BE-4 engine that will power the Vulcan next generation launch system.
The BE-4 engine offers the fastest path to a domestic alternative to the Russian RD-180. Development is on schedule to achieve qualification for flight in 2017 to support the first Vulcan flight in 2019.
“This agreement gets us closer to having an affordable, domestic and innovative engine that will help the Vulcan rocket exceed the capability of the Atlas V on its first flight and open brand new opportunities for the nation’s use of space,” said Tory Bruno, president and chief executive officer of ULA. “This partnership enables each company to leverage its strengths, with ULA bringing production excellence and mission assurance, and Blue Origin bringing innovative engineering concepts and a commitment to lowering the cost of spaceflight.”
“The BE-4 engine test program is well underway with more than 60 staged-combustion tests already on the books,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin. “This new agreement is an important step toward building BE-4s at the production rate needed for the Vulcan launch vehicle.”
The Vulcan Rocket brings together decades of experience on ULA’s reliable Atlas and Delta vehicles, combining the best features of each to produce an all-new, American-made rocket that will enable mission success from low Earth orbit all the way to Pluto.
The BE-4 is a liquid oxygen, liquefied natural gas (LNG) rocket engine that delivers 550,000-lbf of thrust at sea level. Two BE-4s would power each ULA Vulcan booster, providing 1,100,000-lbf thrust at liftoff. ULA is teaming in the development of the BE-4 to enable availability for national security, civil, human and commercial missions. Development of the BE-4 engine has been underway for more than three years and testing of the BE-4 components is ongoing at Blue Origin’s test facilities in West Texas.
About United Launch Alliance
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 95 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.
About Blue Origin
Blue Origin, LLC (Blue Origin) is a private company developing vehicles and technologies to enable commercial human space transportation. Blue Origin has a long-term vision of greatly increasing the number of people that fly into space so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system. For more information and a list of job openings, please visit us at www.blueorigin.com.