Jeff Bezos’ rocket engine is coming, ending America’s dependence on Russia

An engine built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin LLC appears on track showing it could power heavy payloads into space for the Pentagon after years of delay, bringing the US closer to end political dependence on a Russian-made model.

An engine built by Jeff Bezos’s Blue origin LLC appears on the roadmap showing it can power heavy payloads into space for the Pentagon after several years of delay, bringing WE move closer to ending political reliance on a Russian-made model.

Blue Origin predicted in 2014 that its BE-4 engine would be ready in 2017 to launch the new Vulcan rocket built by United Launch Alliance, a leading joint venture. Pentagon contractors Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corp. But the Government Accountability Office as recently as June cited “continued technical challenges in the development of US-made rocket engines”.

For now, the US Space Force is expressing optimism, saying in a statement that “Vulcan launch system development activities continue to make progress” towards the first test launch in December. because “ULA and Blue Origin have completed development testing of the BE-4 as originally planned, and have successfully demonstrated full-engine performance.”

United Launch Alliance used reliable Russian-made RD-180 engine to launch map The V-heavy missile has successfully launched about 80 civil, commercial and national security launches since 2000, according to the Congressional Research Service.

But Conference demanded that the Russian engine be replaced after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and that argument has only taken effect since President Vladimir Putin’s army invaded. Ukraine in February.

Elon MuskBezos’ billionaire and competitive space entrepreneur has ripped ties with the Russians in a successful battle to compete with what he calls a Boeing-Lockheed exclusive to the Pentagon. satellite debut.

Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, has received final certification to fly its Falcon Heavy rocket to perform the most sensitive classified missions, including the first mission. one from October to December using reusable boosters.

For Bezos, the Space Force’s positive view of his company’s progress provides some good news after the closely held Blue Origin forced the cancellation of a New Shepard rocket launch on May 12. 9 shortly after takeoff in West Texas. It was the company’s first major failure since switching to regular commercial flights. The New Shepard was powered by a different engine from the BE-4.

United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan program “is currently focused on completing BE-4 certification testing and delivering flight engines,” Space The force said in its statement. “Other elements of it are progressing through final quality checks to support initial launchability.” ULA needs two successful test flights scheduled for commercial launches as a requirement for the Space Force’s certification that the new engine-powered rocket can carry sensitive intelligence and military cargo. most sensitive of the United States.

Frank Calvelli, the Air Force’s assistant secretary of space systems, said in a statement that ULA and Blue Origin “have done a lot to reduce risk, but there’s still a lot of work and testing to meet.” launch this December.”

The Space Force said it hopes to complete ULA’s initial certification of the Vulcan rocket with a BE-4 engine as early as March 2023 for “lower launch vehicle performance and payload capacity.” ” and final certification in 2025 for “our largest and most intense” national security mission.

Those certifications will position ULA to better compete with SpaceXand possibly others, for a third round of 39 national security space launches from fiscal 2025 to fiscal 2027, with the first award due in October 2024.

“The first BE-4 flight engine is undergoing acceptance testing at Blue Origin’s facilities in Van Horn, Texas,” the company’s spokesman William Boyington said in a statement. “On completion of final acceptance testing, the flight engines will be delivered to ULA, with full BE-4 production underway.”

When asked about the biggest technical challenges the BE-4 engine had to overcome, ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said in a statement that it was “a major liquefied natural gas-fueled engine.” developed and uses high performance duty cycle. This requires the maturation of many cutting-edge technologies, proven through a rigorous development testing program. ”

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