“There is no point in throwing Blue Origin under the bus.” About two weeks from now, Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, will have a moment of triumph after 21 years in spaceflight. It will climb onto its New Shepard launch system, explode into space above our line of work, float inside its capsule, and then return to Earth under parachutes. p>
It seems unlikely that everyone in the space community will celebrate. Bezos made his fortune on Amazon through competitive pricing and timely delivery of merchandise to customers around the world. At least so far, his satellite company Blue Origin hasn't been a reliable seller.
This has been a particular concern for the United Launch Alliance, which is relying on Blue Origin engines in its new Vulcan rocket. . The US Space Force is also monitoring the Vulcan Booster to help launch its most valuable satellites into orbit. The powerful Blue-Origin BE-4 rocket engine, which burns methane and liquid oxygen, has been delayed for years.
Notably, various sources say that the relationship between Blue Origin and the United Launch Alliance is not good. “There is a lot of concern about engine development,” said an industry insider. "That's a lot more than what Tory Bruno puts on public display. There is a lot of concern that Blue is not paying enough attention to the engine."ReadingBlue Origin The New Glenn's giant rocket has been delayed by years. what happened? For years, United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno has said that the new Vulcan rocket, equipped with two BE-4 engines, will be launched in 2021. However, he recently said Flying Week is the first launch in 2022. He said that's because Mostly to the mission client, Astrobotic, whose aircraft carrier was not ready. Technically, Bruno said, Vulcan still has a chance to prepare for a 2021 launch.
This seems highly unlikely because it's July and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) doesn't have a pair yet. Engines After receiving flight engines from Blue Origin, the ULA must attach them to the Vulcan missile, mount it on the launch pad, and perform lengthy tests before igniting. After this hot-fire test, the missile is returned to the nest and ready for a real test launch. Since January, Bruno has said that the hot-fire test will be conducted with flight engines this summer. This will not happen again.
In response to a question from El Ars, ULA declined to provide an updated timeline for when it expects to deliver Blue Origin's ready-to-fly BE-4 engines. The company also declined to comment on any tensions with Blue Origin. "It protects Blue Origin," a source said of Bruno's lack of public criticism of the BE-4's engine delay. “There is no point in throwing Blue Origin under the bus.” The 550,000-pound engine, more powerful than the main space shuttle engine, has been in development since 2011. However, there has been plenty of sales led by Blue Origin's propulsion program, with Bill Cruz and Mike Kern leaving the company in 2018, and Cruz's successor, Dante Smith. It only lasted about a year before leaving in August 2019. Toure Bruno confirmed that there were problems with the car's turbo inside the engine, but said that those problems had been fixed.
It has been nearly seven years since Blue Origin and ULA first announced their plan to collaborate on spaceflight in September 2014. Bezos has invested heavily in the development of the BE-4 engine , which was necessary to supply his large rocket, known as the New Glenn. Having ULA as a client helps offset some of these costs.
Since then, Blue Origin has not been the best partner. Two years after the BE-4 was announced, Blue Origin changed its public stance on proposals for national security initiatives. Officials said the New Glenn missile would already compete with Vulcan in lucrative military launches. To many ULA engineers and executives, this seemed like a betrayal, because the company probably wouldn't exist without U.S. Aerospace Forces contracts.Read more from a new book, Amazon Unbound, shows Jeff Bezos jealous of SpaceX
Why did ULA decide to work with an unproven company like Blue Origin for its engines? According to the 2014 announcement, Bruno said, “Blue Origin has proven its ability to build high-performance rocket engines, and we are thrilled to have the best minds in engineering, supply chain management and business practices to create a new, cost-effective, reliable American rocket engine.”
At the time, Bruno and other ULA executives liked the price and performance of the BE-4 engine.With a methane-fueled first stage and second stage "ACES" planned, plus six belt boosters, it could exceed the performance of a rocket The Vulcan 30% off an expensive Delta IV heavy-duty booster.The ACES has since been scrapped in favor of the traditional Centaur top-stage, but the Vulcan is still a powerful heavy-lift rocket.It's basically operational—except for its engines.The Vulcan is essential to the ULA's future as it competes with a competitor US-based SpaceX launch Vulcan should be cheaper than previous ULA flight, it destroys missiles, and most importantly it is powered by US-made engines. ULA's current Atlas V rocket launcher uses Russian-made engines. This was unacceptable to Congress as relations with me deteriorated The United States and Russia over the past decade. Blue Origin's delays disappoint both ULA and space officials eager to start flying aboard the Vulcan. This led to more tensions, sources said, as engineers skipped the final design of the BE-4 engines. Blue Origin wants to improve the BE-4 for reuse in the first stage of its New Glenn rocket, which is intended to fly multiple times. ULA may eventually reuse these engines, but will now put them in use. Therefore, ULA and Space Force engineers are working, in the name of utilitarianism, on a final, less reusable design. Want to advertise
AR1 for some entertainment? ULA chose the BE-4 engine for the Vulcan engine over the proposed engine from Aerojet Rocketdyne, the most famous developer of rocket engines in the United States. Aerojet said its AR1 engine, which burns kerosene and liquid oxygen, would be a better and safer option for the Vulcan. However, ULA eventually decided to estimate that the BE-4 engine was in development about 18 months prior to the AR1 due to its low cost.
So, given the BE-4 delays, can ULA reconsider the AR1 engine? This is unlikely, sources said, at least for a later time. "There is no change to our current schedule," Jessica Ray, a spokeswoman for the United Launch Alliance, told Ares.
However, this may not always be the case. An industry official said some work continued in the background around the potential use of the AR1 engine. Neither ULA nor Aerojet has commented on questions. In a written statement, Aerojet said: "Discussions are ongoing with several potential customers. We believe the AR1 will provide main-stage power for medium launch vehicles." “The lift is good, especially when paired with the high-end RL10.”
The Centaurs Vulcan upper stage is powered by RL-10 engines. It's also important to note that Aerojet and ULA will soon be in the same family. ULA was founded in 2006 and is jointly owned by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Lockheed is expected to finalize the Aerojet acquisition later this year. Therefore, one of the co-owners of the ULA will also be the owner of the AR1 engine. Zoom/test of the BE-4 missile engine in West Texas. The Blue Original
The AR1 engine is still hard to speed with with a ULA. Although Aerojet completed assembly of its first fully developed engine in December 2020, it is still years away from flying. Aerojet did not provide Aras with software to test the AR1, saying only that "this is done through permanent testing capabilities". The complex problem is that some, or perhaps most, of the AR1 development team has left the group. Linda Kova, AR1 Program Manager, left Aerojet to work on Blue Origin in March 2021.
Additionally, with the current design, Vulcan's propulsion systems are built and ground using BE with methane fuel. -4 engines, not ARS kerosene engines. Changing the Vulcan engine now requires major and time-consuming changes.
Also, if the ULA instead used the AR1 engine as a "replacement drop" for the Russian-made engines of the Atlas V missile, the new missile would not be powerful enough. The Atlas V and Delta IV missiles will become heavy, and the modified Atlas V missile does not have the lift capability ULA needs to satisfy its government customers. ULA may not be happy about that. How an industry source worked before joining the partnership, “But now they have no choice but to marry Blue Origin.” p>
Increasingly, the marriage of ULA-Blue Origin is considered an unpleasant marriage
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