Commercial Spaceflight And The Dawning Age of NewSpace

ULA and Blue Origin Move Forward with BE-4 Plan

United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Blue Origin announced an agreement today for expanding production of Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine that ULA wants to use for its new Vulcan rocket.  The announcement takes place against the backdrop of reports that another rocket engine company, Aerojet Rocketdyne, is trying to buy ULA, which would, at best, complicate the ULA/Blue Origin plan.

ULA and Blue Origin, founded by Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, revealed amid much fanfare last fall that they were teaming on ULA’s new Vulcan rocket that is intended to eventually replace the two rockets ULA currently uses, Atlas V and Delta IV.  Congress is insisting that use of Russian RD-180 engines that currently power the Atlas V be discontinued by 2019 for national security launches, the mainstay of ULA’s launch business.   Blue Origin’s BE-4 (Blue Engine 4) is viewed by ULA as the most mature domestically made engine that could replace the RD-180s.  Today’s announcement said that BE-4 “offers the fastest path” to a domestic replacement for RD-180s and will “achieve qualification flight in 2017 to support the first Vulcan flight in 2019.”

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.spacepolicyonline.com

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