Blue Origin gets boost with Vulcan contract

Blue Origin gets boost with Vulcan contract

Blue Origin has won a contract to supply its engines for United Launch Alliance's massive planned Vulcan Centaur rocket, ULA announced Thursday. Paired with a Centaur upper stage, powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engines, and Northrop Grumman solid rocket boosters, Vulcan will be able to place 56,000 pounds into low Earth orbit (LEO), 33,000 pounds into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GEO), or 16,000 pounds into Geostationary Orbit (GEO).

Blue Origin has garnered a major rocket deal that proves Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos entrepreneurial capacities go beyond excelling in the e-commerce and artificial intelligence industries.

ULA and Blue Origin originally announced the partnership in 2014, but Blue Origin's BE-4 engine was still in development and ULA kept another engine, the AR1, built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, as a potential backup.

Blue Origin has been developing its BE-4 engine for several years.

The Blue Origin BE-4 rocket engine is put through a test. The first launch is slated for the year 2020.

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According to the statement, the new rocket design is nearing completion, and the booster preliminary design and critical design reviews have been completed.

Bezos' company has also been developing the liquid oxygen-powered BE-4 engine to power its own New Glenn rocket.

ULA President Tory Bruno said "Our new rocket will be superior in reliability, cost and capability - one system for all missions". That engine now provides the main power for ULA's legacy workhorse, Atlas V, which the Vulcan will eventually replace.

ULA now uses a Russian-built engine, the RD-180, to launch its Atlas V rockets.

Bezos is channeling $1 billion of his own income's part annually into Blue Origin as it heads to fly its own heavy-lift launch vehicle, named New Glenn, in 2020. Cummings Research Park, the nation's second-largest research park, will be home to the Blue Origin facility. Blue Origin also intends to compete for national security launches - and could end up bidding against ULA. Huntsville led the USA propulsion revolution in the '60s, and we continue to do so with a thriving industry of rocket scientists and rocket producers.

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