Blue Origin BE4 Engine Likely Slipping to 2022

In 2014, Blue Origin said the BE-4 engine would be ready by 2017 but it is likely slipping to 2022.

ULA need BE-4 for its new Vulcan rocket and Blue Origin needs it for the New Glenn rocket.

Blue Origin did not have enough components to build development engines, and this has led to long periods without active testing.

SpaceX has built about as many 50-meter Starship prototypes in the last two years as Blue Origin has built BE-4 development engines in five years.

Blue Origin has had a new Senior Vice President John Vilja for the last two years. He has put the BE-4 program back on track.

Blue Origin works with the ULA and the US military has meant a lot of regulations and filing of test paperwork.

SOURCES – Ars Technica
Written by Brian Wang,

73 thoughts on “Blue Origin BE4 Engine Likely Slipping to 2022”

  1. Who needs rocket engines? Just get more snazzy graphics artists to let you see what the finished rocket will look like flying through space in only 2 months*.

  2. That would violate their advertising practices. They prefer to act like the Saturn V just came out last year and they plan to beat that.

  3. Past experience has shown that civilisations can be built up from a "seed factory" consisting of a rock and a stick.

    But the more sophisticated your tool set, the less thousand years it takes.

  4. Bezos is no Musk. He's just the money guy, nowhere technically knowlegdeable with the engineering aspect.

  5. The Merlin in "The Once and Future King" had an interesting perspective, too.

    edit: And, while on the topic, "Gravity's Rainbow" is a must for these days.

  6. One of the first things I read as an adolescent was Churchill's WWII history. The Queen recently gave our leader a copy, abridged from six to one. "Their finest hour". Hard to argue with that judgement.

  7. If you have not seen it:

    Branson may have the lead on this, as pg 333 seems to be like his plans.

    "'money, focus, and passion'":

    Search Criswell LSP find searchanddiscovery link see ppg 12-13 for Earth to Earth power beaming. That will solve the problem, along with bigger Space Solar, such as LSP.

  8. Thus, I try to use the In *Space* Resource Use, along with In Space Mfg, for ISMRU. In *Situ* is planet chauvinist. It assumes that you will stay on the *site* where the resource is, and use it there. The resources will be processed in micr0g, In Space. "Is the surface of a planet" such as the Moon "the right place" to process lunar rego?

  9. I actually have a lot of confidence that some signficant push for Orbital Assembly Co (or its eventual new owner) will happen. Seems to be a 'Build to Suit' multiple entity-type system.
    I especially like that you can own or lease (as one of the first) your own Luxury Villa.

  10. some good physics – see the realistic orbiting feces cloud and bodily failure once exposed to vacuum. Way too many Karens though – that will certainly ruin Space.

  11. I suppose that it has to be determined how the 'money, focus, and passion' for off-earth development (if available) can be directed and how that motivates expansion. Is the early approach and ignition (post-Artemis (if that ever happens)):
    – multi-use large entity, built in bits, but not habitable/usable until later stages. Lots of up-front money and talent. High risk, much bureaucracy. The 'build it and they will come' approach?
    – many, many self-contained varying-use pieces which may or may not be interchangeable, relatable, symbiotic. Small habitats. Research closets. Government/ private/ other? craft/ stations. The 'organic, just to get things going' approach?
    Methinks we will be surrounded in various failed and abandoned projects post-2070 throughout cislunar orbits before some cohesive and productive 'culture' starts to emerge.

  12. agreed. NG should franchise these 'launch and go' systems throughout as a way to get smaller payloads up faster – but as a cost/kg and launches/yr comparison to SpaceX post-Starship – unclear.

  13. What's the context? Suppose Raptor ALSO beats BE-4. Then you'll change the "context" to BE-4 versus the successor to Raptor.

  14. Back in 1980, it was estimated that a "seed factory" capable of making items on the Moon would be 100 tons. That's one Starship payload.

    Some asteroids are made of an iron-nickel-cobalt alloy. Other have carbon compounds. Combine those and you have a steel alloy. It may not be the best alloy for every purpose, but it is good enough to start with for basic construction and machine parts.

  15. I was part of the Open Source Ecology project in its early days. Marcin pulled the list of 50 machines out of his ass. There was no rationale for which machines, how big to make them, or in what order.

    I've done work since then on the concept of "seed factories". That is a starter set of tools and machines, which you then use to build more machines to expand the set recursively:

    A basic starter set has about 8 items, plus accessories, hand tools, etc.

  16. The first products will be simple things: unprocessed dirt for radiation shielding, water, oxygen, and propellants. Those enable keeping people in place for longer times and lower propellant overhead.

    M-class (metallic) asteroids have a high percentage native iron-nickel alloy. Once you get some metal-working machines in place, you can start building more complex items. That includes equipment to process ores and extract different materials.

    Stuff like gyroscopes and electronics will continue to come from Earth for a while. They don't weigh that much compared to bulk items like structural parts.

  17. Thanx! Breaking things down as we are now actually doing this is needed. My only comment would be to skip the living on Moon step, in 2), and focus on expanding ISS and HALO Gateway things. Then, by 3)'s residential Moon presence step that would be a small presence compared to O'Neill Space. If the long term goal is micr0g and NOT planets, get Mars out of the plans, and Moon only as needed. Not first!

  18. I suppose that all depends on who is up there, when they get there, and why they are there.
    1)Limited to: adrenaline tourists, minor research, and minor military, based on self-funding/ limited NGO/private initiatives in the next 50 years-and stagnating? Very little self-sustaining and prospecting-to-value-products anticipated -> slow off-world development.
    2)Developed to: significant satelite and craft orbital construction, significant extended-stay moon presence, and active interest in smash-and-grab NEO exploitation for orbital and surface use in the next 20 to 80 years-and stagnating? Significant exploitation but minimal processing/manufacturing -> very parasitic/ cash-mineral/ skeleton space economy (underdeveloped wild west-like rush).
    3)Expanded to: significant multi-use orbital and moon presence (residential/ commercial/ institutional), dedicated full-cycle manufacturing infrastructure to support, likely developing self-governance vibe in cislunar and/or luna locales, required open-pit moon and smash/grab and drag/drop NEO exploitation in the next 50 to 150 years-and growing? This is the true branching of self-sustaining earth vs orbit economies.
    **to be Frank, I think we are stuck at #2 until mid-3rd Millenium.

  19. I remember that effort. I also remember some girl commenting that they lack a machine for weaving and one for sewing, and ascribing it to a "toys for boys" mentality. In the end, the number 50 was somewhat arbitrary and they ought to abandon it as a limit. Oh well! I hope that they have been doing progress regardless.

  20. I loved the tagline on the Ars article: "This is a success oriented approach, but it could definitely backfire." Honey, if the rocket engine isn't backfiring, it cannot possibly be successful.

    I kid, but the idea of having the engine go on for final integration before making sure that it works is something I would call less "success oriented" and more "faith oriented". Hopefully the BO staff have been saying their rosaries recently.ute

  21. Be careful. Bezos lander uncrewed can do it. That is the plan, even faster without the crew stuff. He has landed the prototype over 15 times.

    edit: not to mention the plethora of smaller landers.

  22. I’m a Californian I can’t get Jack.

    I’d prefer the UMP 45 just so I can share pistol ammo.

  23. From the context, the BE-4, is to be compared to Raptor. Other engines are before Falcon Merlins, duh!

  24. You are grasping at straws. The engines are BE-4 and Raptor. Obviously, from the context. The first engine you are talking about launched Yuri.

  25. Yes, the Musk crowd is getting pretty mean. They are cornered with a loser plan. Did you see how much fun the ISS people are having?

  26. There are three ways to block out possible answers to O'Neill *the* question. Earth far easier. Space far easier. A mix. If it is a mix, that means that we need to get a balance between Earth and Space mfg to match the mix. Micr0g, the stuff being possible only in Space, seems an obvious start. And, it cannot be far easier on Earth. It is impossible on Earth. Then, stuff that is hard to launch as it is big and light, but easy to make. Space Solar. What keeps us from doing things in Space that we do on Earth? Baby steps, but a very fast baby.

  27. Of course. So, you recommend starting to use launches to avoid further launches, as O'Neill proposed? Or, do you like the launch fuel indefinitely plan? This goes back to before Bezos, btw. "We have been launching for many years." We humans.

  28. We humans. My comment is from a perspective when Bezos was 13 and Musk was 6. O'Neill 1977. Bezos is the one with the O'Neill plan now, the rocket for the lander tested, the legs, the landing system, all tested.

  29. Hmm I'd buy a moon rock. Mrs. Combinatorics wouldn't like it but I'd buy one. I'd tell her it was the moon rock or a Sig AR.

    SpaceX should set up pre-orders. $200 non-refundable deposit and say $10,000 for a half kilo piece of regolith?

    World's most enviable paper weight?

  30. Bezos isn't likely to go broke before the engines are qualified, so no reason to worry. If it isn't ready this year, it will be next year, or the year after, or the year after… All that matters is that it gets done in the end, space isn't going anywhere.

  31. I suppose it's not shocking that a BO sourced graphic shows at this point speculative BO rockets, and fails to show a SpaceX rocket that is literally sitting on the launch pad at this very moment.

  32. geez. what a great project. In a single module – say 50m3 – to be attached to a station/ space yard/ craft-to-be-serviced. A self-contained space to place much of the process of raw NEO extraction, then to processing/ metallurgy (analysis / comminution)… usable to be machined? how many alloys? Most versatile processes? Processing vs assembly — shaping/ surface prep/ joining/ fastening…

  33. forget not adorable Northrop Grumman, Antares, and Cygnus.
    They're getting things done 10,000 lbs at a time – next week or soon…

  34. does beg the question what the simplest partially-manufactured thing that could be accomplished completely beyond LEO (of reasonable scale and common use) based on ease of manufacture given what's available in NEOs?
    Fuels, adobe-style lunar enclosures, rad protection, and … for the foreseeable future?

  35. I suppose that depends on how much of the supply line starts in space, stays in space, and departs from/ returns to space. Trace the path of: mineral prospecting to design and assembly of complex gyroscopes and other infrastructure essentials – tis a long path from NEO tracking to fully assembled and commissioned systems. A civilization's manufacturing program in space?… methinks baby steps.

  36. Launch humans, or launch humans <i>into orbit?</i> Because I'm pretty sure that Bezos could pull of another sounding rocket trip before Musk gets the Starship man rated by Nasa for launches from Earth, I'm less confident that he'll launch anybody into orbit before that happens.

  37. I'm pretty darned sure Musk is going to mine extraterrestrial resources first. Remember, his lunar lander is supposed to bring back payload to Earth orbit.

  38. If you can't launch, you're not "avoiding" launching, you're just incapable.

    And unless you have some sort of matter rearranger beam that can turn remote asteroids into useful hardware across interplanetary distances, no, we're not getting anything done without launching. A lot of launching before space is a source for hardware, not a sink.

  39. Could have been an honest mistake, the scale reads wrong as if the artist used the top of the Starship as the 126' mark, not the exit. And/or, the correct result was just too unbelievably big and was subconsciously rejected. Even worse, they have the Moon entirely too close to the Earth. Long ago, I proposed a cage match between Bezos and Musk. Are we there yet?

  40. Which will launch humans first, New Glenn, or at least the B-4 engine it uses on a smaller rocket, or Starship, or its Raptor on any rocket? We are not going to use extraterrestrial humans, by the way. They do have to be launched. The materials, if you are launching them other than to set up, you should have thot ahead more. Does Musk plan the 10x refuel launches indefinitely?

  41. We have been launching for many years. The age old key to Space is to avoid launching, as O'Neill pointed out long ago. Use resources already in Space. Who has plans and hardware to do this?

  42. So BO will put their first ounce in to LEO in 2025?

    Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of BO, just not the actual BO that we have all waited for.

  43. Musk's way is far better.

    BO has yet to get one ounce to LEO. People shouldn't compare SpaceX to BO.

  44. Cool rocket pics bro. Now throw in Starship, which is further along than New Glenn and bigger than the Saturn V.

  45. Bezos is now all in after removing himself from most of his roles in Amazon. Things are going to move faster.

  46. Bezos claims everything is crew rated from the first design. Musk seems to get there as a goal. Not saying either way is better, but the Musk way will certainly make more fireworks along the way. Which engine will launch people first?

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