Blue Origin shows off its first fully assembled rocket engine

William Gayde

Posts: 381   +5
Staff member

Jeff Bezos and his space company Blue Origin have been making headlines lately for all the right reasons. Just a few days after he announced plans for an Amazon-like shipping service to the moon, Bezos is now showing off his company's first fully assembled rocket engine. The BE-4 engine has been in development since 2011, marking a big milestone for the private space company. SpaceX has been driving most of the buzz lately, so it's great to see another company ready to compete.

This is the first engine and Bezos says two more are close behind and ready to begin testing. It's not clear where the engine will be headed or what rocket it will power, but Blue Origin does have a test facility in Texas. The "New Glenn" rocket they are planning will have seven of these BE-4 engines making it a truly massive rocket.

Blue Origin still has a long way to go considering their manufacturing facility is still under construction in Florida. Once everything is up and ready though, they should have no shortage of customers. The United Launch Alliance, the military's top launch contractor, has selected the BE-4 for their upcoming Vulcan rocket (also pictured above). Congress passed a bill banning the use of Russian made engines for military use so the BE-4 is Bezos's plan to enter this market.

Competition is always good in emerging fields. With tangible progress towards a launch system, the ULA is pleased with Blue Origin. The BE-4 engine unveiled today will likely see many years of use in the future on Blue Origin and ULA rockets. The first planned launch will be powering the Vulcan rocket sometime in 2019.

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MarkHughes

Posts: 283   +247
What a nice looking bit of engineering, Is it my imagination or has the plumbing on rocket engines got simpler ? Might go see if I can fine some kind of schematic on these newer engines.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,289
When you see Saturn V on a chart and realise it was designed 50 years ago by men and women with pencils and slide rules. Then remember it flew so well with only minor problems. You still have to doff your cap to the people that built it.
When you think back to Apollo XIII, it wasn't the Saturn V booster that failed, it was the command module. The booster performed flawlessly. and when you look back on Apollo I, that too was the CM that killed the astronauts.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,480   +2,658
When you think back to Apollo XIII, it wasn't the Saturn V booster that failed, it was the command module. The booster performed flawlessly. and when you look back on Apollo I, that too was the CM that killed the astronauts.

I seem to recall barring a few pogo oscillation problems all flights that used any of those three separate stages were successful. When you think of the scale of the achievements just of the design of that rocket with the tools available at the time it blows the mind.

Of course when you have the entire budget of a small nation to work with you can accomplish great things, but today you can chuck endless computer simulation/design at rockets and build on decades of knowledge of others. You still end up with all sorts of problems you only discover when your rocket blows up in real life lol
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,289
I seem to recall barring a few pogo oscillation problems all flights that used any of those three separate stages were successful. When you think of the scale of the achievements just of the design of that rocket with the tools available at the time it blows the mind.

Of course when you have the entire budget of a small nation to work with you can accomplish great things, but today you can chuck endless computer simulation/design at rockets and build on decades of knowledge of others. You still end up with all sorts of problems you only discover when your rocket blows up in real life lol
The Saturn V was a marvelous piece of engineering when you consider it was originally designed as as a ICBM then adapted to do what it did. I was too young at that time to really understand all those kind of things but even back then but I was fascinated by it... and it had far, far less computing power than an entry level smartphone has nowadays.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,953   +1,143
When you see Saturn V on a chart and realise it was designed 50 years ago by men and women with pencils and slide rules. Then remember it flew so well with only minor problems. You still have to doff your cap to the people that built it.
When you think back to Apollo XIII, it wasn't the Saturn V booster that failed, it was the command module. The booster performed flawlessly. and when you look back on Apollo I, that too was the CM that killed the astronauts.
Apollo XIII suffered a single main engine failure in the first stage of it's flight, it wasn't entirely smooth.

I seem to recall barring a few pogo oscillation problems all flights that used any of those three separate stages were successful. When you think of the scale of the achievements just of the design of that rocket with the tools available at the time it blows the mind.

Of course when you have the entire budget of a small nation to work with you can accomplish great things, but today you can chuck endless computer simulation/design at rockets and build on decades of knowledge of others. You still end up with all sorts of problems you only discover when your rocket blows up in real life lol
The Saturn V was a marvelous piece of engineering when you consider it was originally designed as as a ICBM then adapted to do what it did. I was too young at that time to really understand all those kind of things but even back then but I was fascinated by it... and it had far, far less computing power than an entry level smartphone has nowadays.

The Saturn V as not designed as an ICBM, it was a clean-sheet design that was always intended solely for human-rated flights. It was never intended to be an ICBM, but designing the Saturn V was an excuse to research ICBM technologies without having to call it that. The Mercury-Redstone was a modified ICBM, and so was the Mercury-Atlas. The Gemini Titan-II was another modified ICBM, as well as the Gemini Atlas-Agena.

The entire space race was an excuse for America and the Soviets to research ICBM technologies at a breakneck pace, and have the support of their public while they did it. Luckily, we all ended up with the best possible outcome from such research (not being burning to a radioactive crisp) instead of the worst.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,480   +2,658
Apollo XIII suffered a single main engine failure in the first stage of it's flight, it wasn't entirely smooth.

It was a pogo oscillation induced shutdown of a single engine on the second stage. The whole thing was designed with that exact contingency in mind.

As a result it still worked fine- it accomplished the goal of putting the spaceship into the correct orbit, within a very small margin of error. Perfect? No. Successful? Yes.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 17,994   +6,807
....[ ].....The Saturn V as not designed as an ICBM, it was a clean-sheet design that was always intended solely for human-rated flights. It was never intended to be an ICBM, but designing the Saturn V was an excuse to research ICBM technologies without having to call it that. The Mercury-Redstone was a modified ICBM, and so was the Mercury-Atlas. The Gemini Titan-II was another modified ICBM, as well as the Gemini Atlas-Agena..
I think the very early Air Force "Vanguard", (or as I called it, "the amazing exploding Vanguard), and Jupiter boosters may have been adapted from weapons boosters as well. (Note, no research, I'm posting from memory, so don't be too hard on me).


Wiki says "no" to former military on the Vanguard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanguard_(rocket

But "yes to Jupiter C, as a Redstone outgrowth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter-C
 
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