Blue Origin has completed the first BE-4 engine at their Kent, Washington factory recently. BE-4 will replace the Russian-made RD-180 engine on ULA’s new Vulcan rocket, scheduled to enter service in 2019.
Capable of producing 550,000 pounds of thrust, the engine will be powered by Liquid Oxygen and Liquid Methane in a powerful combination known as Methalox.
Now that the first engine has been completed, Blue Origin will prepare for all-up testing of the entire system, a key milestone that will secure the engine’s use on Vulcan. CEO Jeff Bezos expects the second and third engines to be completed soon.
In addition to ULA’s Vulcan using two of the engines on their first stage, Blue Origin’s own launcher, New Glenn, will use seven BE-4s as the powerhouse on its first stage. New Glenn, announced in September, 2016, is an orbital-class launch vehicle Bezos hopes will compete in the super-heavy lift payload class in addition to commercial astronaut flights into Low Earth Orbit.