Blue Origin to build new rocket engine in Alabama

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Sooner Boomer

Well-Known Member
Mar 21, 2011
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As has been mentioned in numerous news sources, Blue Origin plans to manufacture its BE-4 rocket engines at the Huntsville factory. United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, partnered with Blue Origin to develop the BE-4 engine, which will power the alliance’s Vulcan rocket and Blue Origin’s New Glenn reusable launch system.

The Blue Engine 4 or BE-4 is a staged-combustion rocket engine under development by Blue Origin. Staged combustion means that all of the oxidizer goes through the gas generator (pre-burner) which spins the turbopumps, then into the combustion chamber. This is a fairly common design, pioneered by the Russians, and gives good efficiency. It's a bit harder on parts than a more conventional engine like the Merlin series of engines used by SpaceX.

Another difference is the use of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), which allows for autogenous pressurization - the use of gaseous fuel to pressurize remaining liquid fuel, instead of gaseous helium. LNG is also less sooty than kerosene.