Reusable rocket competitor Blue Origin successfully fires it big new rocket engine

a href=”” target=blank>Blue Origin had a successful hotfire of a full-scale BE-4 engine. This is Jeff Bezos rocket company.

Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine has 550,000 pounds of thrust.

The Spacex Raptor has 380,000 pounds of thrust.

Seven BE-4 engine will power Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket which could fly in 2020. The New Glenn is planning to a have payload capacity of 45 tons to low Earth orbit and 13 tons to geostationary orbit. It will be reusable up to 100 times.

34 thoughts on “Reusable rocket competitor Blue Origin successfully fires it big new rocket engine”

  1. I think the real question is whether or not the niche that the New Glen will fit in is big enough for Blue Origin to be viable. That should also be asked about the BFR (but not SpaceX.) I for one think, beyond a certain launch weight, the bigger the beast the more likely it will go extinct.

  2. Parenthetically – don’t y’all get the feeling of me-too-ism with this announced space launcher? Just look at the graphic (that suspiciously leaves out the BFR. ).

    Old-but-awesome Saturn is a pointy rocket with a huge bottom stage, a narrower 2nd stage, an even narrower 3rd stage. and an even smaller 4th to-the-moon stage. Smaller not just in volume, but smaller in diameter. Why? Just for sêx-appeal? Nah… there’s no money in that when getting to space.

    The Atlas – larger (by way of 3 boosters) in the bottom, narrower up on top. Delta Heavy … bigger bottom (by far) and smaller top). Soyuz, Arienne, Vulcan … bigger bottoms, smaller tops.

    Why do you think they (the Old Guys of Space) did this? Well as I recall reading back in the 1960s and 1970s, the reason was to get the upper stages SMALLER frontal surface area to make a big ol’ supersonic shock wave that’d protect the lower stages from the overpressure. MaxQ as it was called. Still is.

    The BFR and Amazon’s Blue Origin are both big ol’ monoliths. Musk proposed it to LOOK different from the great space buggies of 1960 thru 2000. A really big dîck. Huge. A magnificent unmistakeable phallus. Take that, convention!

    So Bezos, not to have his dîck be any smaller than Musks … invents exactly the same thing. Really? … Really? What’s the chances that his great space phallus would look almost exactly the same as the other dîck’s? ZERO, is the answer.

    Me-too-ism. Bezos me-too whatever Musk is doing. Note tho’ that Musk IS different. He likes big phalluses, hence the big stick shape. And he likes to be different. Buck convention. Reusable phalluses. Methane as a fuel. Bunch of New Turks doing the engineering. NOTHING WRONG with any of these things. But somehow … perhaps the lessons-of-old are lost. Which predicts that they’ll be rediscovered and “reinvented” at some point.

    To tell you the truth I like ’em both. They’re both reinventing the wheel. A possibly better wheel. Bezos in the end has “the edge” for engines by way of utilizing the WAY higher ISP hydrogen-oxygen system than Musk’s methane burner. The cost of fuel is only marginally different for each booster to get it and payload to space. The idea that both of ’em will land upright is nice. Copy-cat-ism is working fine there. And the fact that both are “get-to-Moon-directly” big is also nice. We finally get our Saturn V back.

    Just doesn’t look like a Saturn V, or have the supersonic-shock-wave protection. Oh well … Maybe that’s OK too.


    • I want to say all this phallic stuff is just your imagination and those size transitions just cost more, that the nose cones can do more than they could in the past due to improvements in materials, but it does not look so accidental when the bottom three topics on the graphic are: thrust, lift, repeat.
      In India they have these towers (Shiva Lingam) they dared not tell the British what they represented. These rockets are more of the same, I suspect. Not quite identical, but a representation that is hard to mistake.

    • The Freudism here is interesting & funny. One more point is that we know what the “F” in BFR means. For those who don’t know, it rhymes with “trucking”. Since I don’t think that government contracts will appreciate that f word, I suggest that for those purposes the f word here is “ferry” as in Big Ferry Rocket since that is what the vehicle will be doing. It will ferry crews & cargo back & forth to space.

  3. Wheres Phanteon to tell us it’s impossible for Blue Origin to do this, as it takes tens of Billions of dollars and secret government support?

    In any case, not like I will be able to:
    1) Be notified of a response to this
    2) Be able to find it again
    3) See a nested response and know someone responded to me and not someone else.

    If the comment system isnt fixed soon, I dont think I’ll be coming back here.. as it is i’m only checking this sporadically now. All these ‘Stories’ can be found on Gizmodo, i09, Popular Mechanics, etc.. nothing special here.

  4. Because the 2nd stage does not seem to be recoverable, and to look at it must be extensively disassembled/washed/re-manufactured if it is recovered–it cannot achieve the cost savings of the BFR as shown by SpaceX.

  5. This is more important for the ULA deal than anything else. @ 550 klbs 2x BE-1 will have enough thrust to replace the RD180 on Atlas 5, that’s a pretty big deal if ULA bothers keeping Atlas around
    More important is the Vulcan contract, ULA already stated they prefer BE-1, but Aerojet’s AR1 is holding out incase BE-1 don’t work out. Getting BE-1 to work will secure the contract and put BE in a good financial position, not that it matters much with Bezos funding it.

    Comparing thrust with Raptor is pretty pointless, both engines have thrust far below RD-180 @ 860 klbs or even RS-68A @ 700 klbs, to lift anything big they’ll need to cluster large number of them either way.
    Keeping the engine small helps with engine R&D, but adds complexity to the rest of the rocket, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    • @vlhcvlhc

      “Comparing thrust with Raptor is pretty pointless, both engines have thrust far below RD-180 @ 860 klbs or even RS-68A @ 700 klbs, to lift anything big they’ll need to cluster large number of them either way.”

      So what? Parallelism decreases risk without increasing systemic complexity.

      The fix for a problem seen rarely in parallel also applies in parallel.

  6. I like it that there is only a single launcher. To me it looks that that the two additional rockets is a complicating factor.

    • In the 2020’s when it’s around it will compete with BFR/BFS at an extreme disadvantage with expended second stage and faring, much lower lift capacity, no established mass manufacturing capacity and no in house driver of demand equivalent to SX Starlink Constellation work.

      • As if Musk/SpaceX have some monopoly on being able to open up a satellite business. What they can do, others can also do.

      • They can not complete with a 100% reusable system. The only way Bezos can complete if he makes his own 100% reusable system like BFR.

  7. This engine is a lot more powerful than Raptor – even at 50% it’s more powerful than Raptor. Hopefully it will stay this powerful or even get scaled up further.

  8. Interesting, but it’s going to take them several years to reinvent SpaceX’s success with landings and reusability, at which point SpaceX will have a demonstrated record of both. Not saying they won’t eventually be competitive, but certainly not on their first launch.

    • it’s going to take them several years to reinvent SpaceX’s success with landings and reusability

      I cheer them up, regardless, because actual competition is always the best outcome for consumers, and because that’s the antidote to any anti-trust process started by SpaceX’s adversaries.

    • @ABoyNamedSue

      You’re right. I too have noticed “no notification” and “no nesting” as two of the more significant shortcomings of the present comment system. However, hundreds-of-thousands of other weblogs use WordPress, so I’m hoping that Our Fearless Leader can find the option-boxes to click (or whatever) to get these two features working.

      As to NBF content, I wouldn’t be so dismissive, dude. Yes there is chaff. But there’s also wheat. And there are many blokes and lasses that don’t have the inclination or time to go to 10 different websites to get some of the more interesting articles identified. NBF ain’t bad all in all. io9 has too much. Gizmodo is ridiculous. Pop Mech is stupids-ville. Just saying.

        • Nested threads are working now. Still no way to make all your posts here appear automatically associated to your nick name.

          That is, you still need to input your name and e-mail every time you post.

          I tried getting WordPress and Gravatar accounts, and all I can get is a user image/profile appearing next to any comments I write entering the same e-mail I used in WordPress and Gravatar.

          Which is OK I guess, but anyone can still post in your behalf by simply entering your nick and some phony e-mail.

    • @brett bellmore

      You’re right – it could take several years. But you know the state-of-the-art metrology and physics of this really isn’t all that hard. Even (as a “just to say” example) a way-last-generation 80486 can do thousands of full-floating point adaptive equation-systems from metrology per second. Or, another way to put it, doesn’t take a 24 core Xenon to do the calcs. Any of our desktop or late-model smart-phone processors, if dedicated to metrology and physics calcs, could easily get ‘er done.

      I was in this kind of business for a short stint while working for a Seagate competitor. Getting those read-write heads positioned accurately in milliseconds… is a heck of a feat. Yet, quite invisibly to all of us, its done hundreds-of-thousands of times per second just to reposition the head during nominal hard disk operation. The little processors that crank out the calcs are working at 200 to 500 MHz.

      They have to adapt to elevation (air pressure), temperature (viscosity), anisotropy (in manufacturing the magnetics); they have to deal with limit-rates, optimal (and even temperature variable) rates of acceleration. And somehow position the read-write head to within 50 NANOMETERS with each and every swipe. A hundred thousand of tightly packed tracks.

      It may be WAY bigger than a printhead, but the physics is almost identical. Accelerations, fuel flows, measured rates of acceleration, inferred mass (computable), whole system oscillations (second, third differential equation solving in realtime); the mass drops with fuel use. The endpoint is possibly moving itself … a barge … surf/swell … nuts!

      But the math either IS well worked out, or can be relatively easily. Third year college physics along with grad-school analytic math. There are PLENTY of these kind of blokes (and a few lasses) bopping about.


      • Goatguy dammit tell us your background lol. Clearly you were involved in some graduate level electrical engineering. But did you migrate there from physics, or did you have a different starting point.

      • “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – Yogi Berra –

        But, yes, that’s why I was reasonably confident that SpaceX would lick the landing problem. In principle it’s quite tractable. But there’s still a learning curve to climb, and SpaceX has the advantage of being further along it. That will keep them ahead of Blue Origin for at least a few years even once Blue Origin is flying.

        Speaking of which, visited the Cape with my family this summer, and it was a joy to see all the new construction there, including, yes, a big building with “Blue Origin” on the side.

    • Don’t see what’s plagiarized. Those images are provided by Blue Origin for use by media outlets. It’s pretty standard fare.

    • Way to plagiarize from a Ars Technica article thats 7 months old.

      I see no plagiarism. The text is different.

      The images are Blue Origin’s, not Ars’ property, and Brian is citing them correctly.

    • The commenting system is presently vexing me as well as most everyone. I’ve inquired with Our Great Leader to see what-all can be done to fix the most egregious shortcoming: lack of real comment nesting. After that, perhaps we’ll see fixes to the smaller stuff. GoatGuy

Comments are closed.