Blue Origin test fires the engine that could help it land on the moon

Interest in landing on the moon is at a fever pitch not seen since the 1960s or ‘70s. Having last month shown off its proposed Blue Moon lunar lander, this week Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin carried out a test firing of its BE-7 engine, the propulsion system which it hopes will make this possible.

The hotfire test lasted a little over half a minute, and went according to plan. It was carried out at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In a Thursday, June 20 tweet, containing video footage of the test firing, Bezos wrote that, “Data looks great and hardware is in perfect condition. Test went full planned duration – 35 seconds. Kudos to the whole @BlueOrigin team and grateful to @NASA_Marshall for all the help!”

The single BE-7 engine will produce around 10,000 pounds-force of thrust. It utilizes liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants. In the video of the test, the horizontal engine can be seen shooting flames. Initially, these burn bright green, due to the fluid used to start the BE-7 engine igniting, before turning clear.

According to Bezos, developing the engine has been a multi-year mission. “We’ve been working on this for three years,” he said at an event in May. “We’re going to hotfire it for the first time this summer.” And just like an Amazon Prime package drop-off, he delivered it exactly when he said he would.

No human has set foot on the moon since NASA’s last Apollo mission in 1972. However, earlier this year, Vice President Mike Pence stated that the Trump administration wants a new manned mission to the moon to take place within five years. Bezos is hoping that Blue Origin’s propulsion technology could help achieve this goal.

Bezos has long been fascinated by the possibilities offered by the moon. In 2017, he discussed the possibility of creating a settlement there. “I think that if you go to the moon first, and make the moon your home, then you can get to Mars more easily,” Bezos said at the time.

Whether the BE-7 engine helps make this possible remains to be seen. But if this week’s test firing is anything to go by, signs are looking promising!

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