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posted by martyb on Wednesday February 19 2020, @06:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Why-do-you-throw-them-away-after-using-them-just-once? dept.

Blue Origin opens rocket engine factory

Blue Origin formally opened a factory Feb. 17 that the company plans to use to produce engines both for its vehicles and for United Launch Alliance's Vulcan rocket.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the completion of a 350,000-square-foot factory [in Huntsville, Alabama] that will produce BE-4 and BE-3U engines. The factory, built in a little more than a year, will host more than 300 employees and produce up to 42 engines a year.

[...] While the building is complete, Blue Origin is not yet ready to start producing engines there. Employees will start moving into the factory this week, company officials said, with tooling and other equipment to start arriving in the coming weeks. The factory should be ready to start building BE-4 engines this summer, starting with a "site certification" engine that will be fired at both at Blue Origin's West Texas test site and a test stand at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center that the company is refurbishing.

Blue Origin is currently building BE-4 engines at its headquarters in Kent, Washington. That work includes a series of engines used in testing and two "flight readiness" engines that Smith said in his remarks will be delivered to United Launch Alliance in May for integration on that company's Vulcan rocket for testing. The first engines intended for flight will also be produced there.

The company plans to transition production over a couple of years from Kent to Huntsville. Once the BE-4 production line is stabilized, Huntsville staff will be trained in Kent and then return to ramp up engine production in Huntsville. Ultimately the factory will be able to produce 42 engines a year, split roughly evenly between the BE-4 and the BE-3U engine that will power the upper stage of New Glenn. The company expects to take two to three years to reach that production rate.

SpaceX is planning to return to the Port of Los Angeles after previously abandoning plans for a Starship factory there.

Previously: Blue Origin Will Build its Rocket Engine in Alabama
Blue Origin Wins Contract to Supply United Launch Alliance With BE-4 Rocket Engines
Blue Origin Starts Construction of Rocket Engine Factory in Alabama


Original Submission

Related Stories

Blue Origin Will Build its Rocket Engine in Alabama 8 comments

Today, private spaceflight venture Blue Origin announced its plans to manufacture the company's new rocket engine, the BE-4, at a state-of-the-art facility in Huntsville, Alabama. It's an interesting move for the company, which has been mostly developing the engine at its headquarters in Kent, Washington, and testing the hardware in Texas. But the benefits for Blue Origin are both practical and political.

On the surface, it's a seemingly innocuous decision meant to capitalize on Huntsville's decades-long history of rocket development. The city is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, where the Saturn V rocket was developed and where NASA's future massive deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System, will also be worked on. Plus, many private space contractors are based in Huntsville, making spaceflight a key part of the city's economy and a huge jobs creator. It's why Huntsville has been nicknamed Rocket City.

"Alabama is a great state for aerospace manufacturing and we are proud to produce America's next rocket engine right here in Rocket City," Robert Meyerson, president of Blue Origin, said in a statement.

[...] Of course, Blue Origin probably also had some nice economic incentives to move to the state that factored into the decision. And the company will definitely have a good support system there. Blue Origin's move to Huntsville is supposed to generate 342 jobs at the new facility, located in Cummings Research Park, with salaries averaging $75,000. And given the city's history, Blue Origin should have no problem finding aerospace experts in the area. Phil Larson, a former science advisor to the Obama administration and a former SpaceX spokesperson, pointed out that SpaceX, in part, moved to Los Angeles because it had the largest concentration of aerospace engineers in the country at the time. "Alabama has that same sort of strong technical work force," he tells The Verge.

Source: The Verge


Original Submission

Blue Origin Wins Contract to Supply United Launch Alliance With BE-4 Rocket Engines 5 comments

Jeff Bezos's rocket company beats out spaceflight veteran for engine contract

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rocket company just scored a major contract. His company's BE-4 engines will power United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur, a new suite of rockets that will aim to better compete with Elon Musk's SpaceX on price. Its first launch is slated for 2020. The contract award with ULA marks a high-profile vote of confidence for Bezos's space startup.

"We are very glad to have our BE-4 engine selected by United Launch Alliance. United Launch Alliance is the premier launch service provider for national security missions, and we're thrilled to be part of their team and that mission," Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in a statement announcing the award on Thursday.

[...] Blue Origin's win does not come as a huge surprise. The BE-4 is further along in development than the comparable Aerojet engine, dubbed the AR1, and is expected to be less expensive to make. [ULA CEO Tory] Bruno previously expressed his preference for Blue's BE-4 over Aerojet's AR1.

BE-4.

Also at Ars Technica.

Related: Blue Origin Will Build its Rocket Engine in Alabama
NASA Opens Door to Possibly Lowering SLS Cost Using Blue Origin's Engines
Aerojet Rocketdyne Seeks More U.S. Air Force Funding for AR1 Rocket Engine
SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s
Blue Origin to Compete to Launch U.S. Military Payloads


Original Submission

Blue Origin Starts Construction of Rocket Engine Factory in Alabama 6 comments

Blue Origin starts building the factory for New Glenn's engines

Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket just became more tangible. The company has officially started construction on a factory in Huntsville, Alabama that will produce the BE-4 engines powering both New Glenn and United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur. It'll also make the BE-3U engines used for New Glenn's second stage. While it's not clear when the factory will start making rockets, Blue Origin expects to complete development later in 2019.

Both New Glenn and Vulcan Centaur are expected to launch in 2021.

BE-4.

Previously: Blue Origin Will Build its Rocket Engine in Alabama
NASA Opens Door to Possibly Lowering SLS Cost Using Blue Origin's Engines
Blue Origin to Compete to Launch U.S. Military Payloads
Blue Origin Wins Contract to Supply United Launch Alliance With BE-4 Rocket Engines


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2020, @06:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2020, @06:14PM (#959943)

    When I had a short SpaceX tour (Hawthorne plant) about 5 years ago, my guide said that the rocket engine production line was making an approx an engine every working day -- about 250/year. Each engine was on a pallet and the line moved forward one station/day (many stations, many parts added at each station).

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Freeman on Wednesday February 19 2020, @06:16PM (1 child)

    by Freeman (732) on Wednesday February 19 2020, @06:16PM (#959946) Journal

    Best to keep SpaceX on it's toes. Don't want them turning into Boeing, et al.

    --
    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2020, @07:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2020, @07:03PM (#959964)

      Agreed.. but I hope Blue Origin doesn't start playing dirty, which they probably will.

      Alabama is Senator Shelby land. I don't think it's a coincidence. That man needs to kick the bucket, fast. Dude's 85 years old and been screwing over space for a good chunk of the latter half of those years. But he doesn't seem to age. At this rate he'll be turning space into little more than a side-order of pork well into his hundreds.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Frosty Piss on Thursday February 20 2020, @03:03AM (2 children)

    by Frosty Piss (4971) on Thursday February 20 2020, @03:03AM (#960153)

    Blue Origin is a *VANITY PROJECT*, and not a lot more. It’s a billionaire playing with expensive LEGOs. It should not be taken seriously in terms of contributing to space exploration.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2020, @04:43AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2020, @04:43AM (#960199)

      Do you buy from Amazon? Then you are part of this vanity project too.

      Personally, I've never bought (knowingly) from Amazon. It's true that a few times I've bought on eBay and the seller used Amazon for fulfillment, so I received an unexpected smiley box.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday February 20 2020, @04:46PM

      by Freeman (732) on Thursday February 20 2020, @04:46PM (#960341) Journal

      To that extent, Tesla, SpaceX, and Starlink are just Elon Musk Vanity Projects . . .

      Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are insanely rich people and they can afford to have super expensive hobbies. Their space hobbies, just tend to be building actual rockets, instead of model rockets. At which point, they're actually doing something with regards to advancing science and the industry. As opposed to me in the backyard with a cheapo model rocket or mentos and soda.

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
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