Blue Origin has shared footage of a successful hotfire test of its next-generation BE-4 rocket engine.
The video shows the rocket pumping out up to 550,000 pounds of thrust, with Blue Origin engineers also shown applauding the effort.
“A louder rumble in Rocket City!” the spaceflight company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in a social media post on Thursday. “We just completed our first BE-4 engine hotfire test at the historic Test Stand 4670 in Huntsville. We also continue to test BE-4 engines at our Texas facility. The BE-4 engine produces 550,000 pounds of thrust and is our most powerful engine yet.”
A louder rumble in Rocket City! We just completed our first BE-4 engine hotfire test at the historic Test Stand 4670 in Huntsville. We also continue to test BE-4 engines at our Texas facility. The BE-4 engine produces 550,000 pounds of thrust and is our most powerful engine yet. pic.twitter.com/iyLb3p67PE
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) February 2, 2024
The ground-based test is a welcome achievement for Blue Origin and comes just weeks after the engine made its first successful flight, powering United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket on its own maiden flight in the Peregrine Mission 1 for Astrobotic Technology.
The recent hotfire event offers more confirmation of the BE-4’s reliability following a setback last June when a similar BE-4 test at Blue Origin’s facility in West Texas ended suddenly in an explosion.
The BE-4 engine is key to Blue Origin’s spaceflight ambitions. Besides building it for the likes of ULA, the booster will also power Blue Origin’s own reusable New Glenn rocket, which is currently in development.
ULA’s Vulcan Centaur vehicle uses two BE-4 engines in the first stage, while the New Glenn rocket will fly with seven of the engines.
Notably, the Vulcan Centaur and New Glenn rockets are to be used for 38 Vulcan launches and as many as 27 New Glenn launches in missions to deploy Amazon’s Project Kuiper internet satellites in the coming years in an initiative similar to SpaceX’s Starlink service.
NASA has also selected blue Origin to use the New Glenn to fly its own Blue Moon lander to the moon in an Artemis mission that could take place before the end of this decade.
Up until recently, most Blue Origin flights have involved its single-stage, suborbital New Shepard rocket. The New Glenn and BE-4 engine take its space ambitions to a whole new level.
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