Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ULA, Blue Origin team

Blue Origin is teaming up with United Launch Alliance to develop a rocket engine to replace the Russian-built RD-180, a workhorse that powers the ULA heavy-lift Atlas V rocket. Blue Origin is an often secretive space company run by founder Jeff Bezos. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin that has an impressive track record for successful satellite launches. A scale model of the liquid natural gas and liquid oxygen BE-4 engine developed by Blue Origin was unveiled at a Washington news conference on Wednesday. ULA CEO Tory Bruno said a baseline Atlas would work just as well if not better with a pair of 550,000-pound thrust BE-4 engines than with the RD-180. ULA plans to invest in the BE-4 development. The engine could be ready in four years and would cost considerably less than the RD-180. (Sources: multiple, including NBC NewsReuters, Seattle Times,, 09/17/14) Gulf Coast note: Another ULA rocket, the Delta IV, uses RS-68 engines tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Blue Origin has tested engine components for its BE-3 engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous Meanwhile, Aerojet Rocketdyne on Tuesday announced it would open a rocket propulsion development office in Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Ala., with plans to deliver a new rocket engine to replace the RD-180. The office will be led by Dr. Jerrol Littles in coordination with former acting Marshall Space Flight Center director and Stennis Space Center director Gene Goldman. The company said the new AR 1 rocket it plans to develop will be the first advanced hydrocarbon liquid-fuel rocket engine made by Aerojet Rocketdyne since it was formed by the merger of Aerojet and Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne in 2013. (Source:, 09/17/14) Aerojet Rocketdyne has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss.