Author Topic: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory  (Read 46186 times)

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« on: 01/14/2021 03:48 pm »
https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1349759460202467328

Quote
As featured on today’s #NewShepard webcast, Jacki takes us on a tour of our full-rate engine production facility in Huntsville, AL powering the next generation of American space flight with our #BE4 and #BE3U engines.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2021 02:44 pm by gongora »

Offline loekf

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #1 on: 01/14/2021 03:52 pm »
https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1349759460202467328

Quote
As featured on today’s #NewShepard webcast, Jacki takes us on a tour of our full-rate engine production facility in Huntsville, AL powering the next generation of American space flight with our #BE4 and #BE3U engines.

That was cool, but lots of robotic machines. I wonder about the production rate though. SpaceX has produced close to 50 Raptors and have a decent burn rate (either RUD or SNs proto's are decommissioned).

Offline bombyx

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #2 on: 01/14/2021 04:56 pm »
More pictures (from the webcast ) :

 

Online ThatOldJanxSpirit

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #3 on: 01/14/2021 06:44 pm »
https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1349759460202467328

Quote
As featured on today’s #NewShepard webcast, Jacki takes us on a tour of our full-rate engine production facility in Huntsville, AL powering the next generation of American space flight with our #BE4 and #BE3U engines.

That was cool, but lots of robotic machines. I wonder about the production rate though. SpaceX has produced close to 50 Raptors and have a decent burn rate (either RUD or SNs proto's are decommissioned).

It would have felt a lot more impressive if there had been a few more workers around.  Is it always that dead?

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #4 on: 01/14/2021 06:59 pm »
https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1349759460202467328

Quote
As featured on today’s #NewShepard webcast, Jacki takes us on a tour of our full-rate engine production facility in Huntsville, AL powering the next generation of American space flight with our #BE4 and #BE3U engines.

That was cool, but lots of robotic machines. I wonder about the production rate though. SpaceX has produced close to 50 Raptors and have a decent burn rate (either RUD or SNs proto's are decommissioned).

It would have felt a lot more impressive if there had been a few more workers around.  Is it always that dead?
It could have been filmed on a weekend.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #5 on: 01/14/2021 08:55 pm »
https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1349759460202467328

Quote
As featured on today’s #NewShepard webcast, Jacki takes us on a tour of our full-rate engine production facility in Huntsville, AL powering the next generation of American space flight with our #BE4 and #BE3U engines.

That was cool, but lots of robotic machines. I wonder about the production rate though. SpaceX has produced close to 50 Raptors and have a decent burn rate (either RUD or SNs proto's are decommissioned).

It would have felt a lot more impressive if there had been a few more workers around.  Is it always that dead?
Covid19

Offline GWH

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #6 on: 01/15/2021 02:25 am »
Covid19

In hardware fabrication, assembly and inspection that isn't much of an option like it is in an office environment. Except for if they just cleared out for filming for appearances sake.

What's more subtle but there is a total lack of clutter. I like a clean and organized shop but theirs is absolutely immaculate. Other than a few pallets, boxes and a home depot bucket there is few signs of humans actually working there. I could count on my hands the number of chips in that CNC mill.

Then you have all the display signs in front of the various areas. This was probably shot really early into the factory opening, or they did one extremely thorough clean up before.  Either way it's got that ghost town vibe.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2021 02:27 am by GWH »

Offline gongora

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #7 on: 01/15/2021 02:56 am »
That's the factory which will do their full rate production when they get to the point of doing full rate production.  Has it even done a complete engine yet?  Weren't the initial engines being done in Washington?  I wouldn't expect it to look too lived-in yet.

Offline GWH

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #8 on: 01/15/2021 04:11 am »
Yes it's the full production facility.

Initial engines for 2021 Vulcan flight were probably built in WA.

They will need that full production awfully soon though. Coming up there's 4 Vulcan flights scheduled for 2022, then they will probably want to build at least a pair of New Glenns to hit a decent test cadence.

Up to 22 engines that all need to be built in the next year and a half, 15 if they only build 1 New Glenn.

Edit: oh geez the ribbon cutting at the empty factory was almost a year ago - February 2020. Articles like this one thought they would be up and running full steam this past summer: https://www.geekwire.com/2020/blue-origin-lays-ambitious-plan-rocket-engine-production-opens-alabama-factory/amp/
« Last Edit: 01/15/2021 05:04 am by GWH »

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #9 on: 01/15/2021 05:03 am »
Covid19

...

What's more subtle but there is a total lack of clutter. I like a clean and organized shop but theirs is absolutely immaculate. Other than a few pallets, boxes and a home depot bucket there is few signs of humans actually working there. I could count on my hands the number of chips in that CNC mill.

Then you have all the display signs in front of the various areas. This was probably shot really early into the factory opening, or they did one extremely thorough clean up before.  Either way it's got that ghost town vibe.

It could be that Blue Origin takes 5S very seriously.   My companies factories are immaculate like that. 

The video does give real visual hope that Blue will actually scale up build rates someday and those nice buildings will finally deliver on what so many of have hoped they would do.  It does seem like right now Blue is in a lull to get a final iteration of BE-4 qualified for Vulcan, then they will ramp up for that vehicles manifest & turn internal for NG.

Online edzieba

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #10 on: 01/15/2021 09:24 am »
Throughout that tour (twitter video & webcast) there were visible:

1 Completed BE-4 engine (on the horizontal stand in the foyer, not counting the mockups)
1 BE-4 Chamber + throat grooved inner copper liner (in laser welder)
1 BE-4 Sleeved chamber + throat (in dye penetrant inspection area)
Lots of pallets with nothing mounted to them, in a robotic pallet transport assembly (so having nobody on-site is no reason not to be machining)
Lots of VMCs and lathes powered off
Lots of VMCs and lathes with either nothing inside or an unoccupied fixture
No engines visible in any stage of assembly

This isn't just visiting at night/the weekend when everyone has gone home. If the factory was in full swing, to film what they filmed would require unmounting and removing every single engine under manufacture and assembly on that line, while leaving the pallets and jigs, so royally pissing off everyone who now needs to re-mount and re-indicate all those parts, and probably some wastage as parts sat around off of their jigs are marred or distorted from being unsupported or incorrectly supported. They would also be adding an extended period of downtime to a shop clearly set up for 24/7 lights-out operation.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #11 on: 01/15/2021 03:10 pm »
Yes it's the full production facility.

Initial engines for 2021 Vulcan flight were probably built in WA.

They will need that full production awfully soon though. Coming up there's 4 Vulcan flights scheduled for 2022, then they will probably want to build at least a pair of New Glenns to hit a decent test cadence.

Up to 22 engines that all need to be built in the next year and a half, 15 if they only build 1 New Glenn.

Edit: oh geez the ribbon cutting at the empty factory was almost a year ago - February 2020. Articles like this one thought they would be up and running full steam this past summer: https://www.geekwire.com/2020/blue-origin-lays-ambitious-plan-rocket-engine-production-opens-alabama-factory/amp/
Probably slowed down by a combination of a pandemic and development issues with New Glenn.
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Offline Vettedrmr

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #12 on: 01/15/2021 03:16 pm »
Probably slowed down by a combination of a pandemic and development issues with New Glenn.

I fear they're having issues with BE-4, since Vulcan is the first flight.  NG issues shouldn't be a driver for BE-4 development.

Have a good one,
Mike
Aviation/space enthusiast, retired control system SW engineer, doesn't know anything!

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #13 on: 01/15/2021 08:43 pm »
Probably slowed down by a combination of a pandemic and development issues with New Glenn.

I fear they're having issues with BE-4, since Vulcan is the first flight.  NG issues shouldn't be a driver for BE-4 development.

Have a good one,
Mike
Sure. I guess I was thinking of "New Glenn" as both structure and engines, but I think you're right that the main thing this building would be used for is the engines.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline ncb1397

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #14 on: 01/15/2021 08:50 pm »

This isn't just visiting at night/the weekend when everyone has gone home. If the factory was in full swing, to film what they filmed would require unmounting and removing every single engine under manufacture and assembly on that line, while leaving the pallets and jigs, so royally pissing off everyone who now needs to re-mount and re-indicate all those parts, and probably some wastage as parts sat around off of their jigs are marred or distorted from being unsupported or incorrectly supported. They would also be adding an extended period of downtime to a shop clearly set up for 24/7 lights-out operation.

It is possible that every part they produce is being sent to Kent for evaluation and/or assembly. Eventually, everything would be done in house at Huntsville. That doesn't mean they are at that point.

Offline PahTo

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #15 on: 01/16/2021 05:33 am »

I am sooo disappointed with the comments here.  Really, first class conspiracy stuff, and from some long-time members I used to respect,  I know, the whole Florida operation--all those big bldgs and stuff--and that Alabama plant--all paper mache.

Offline sdsds

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #16 on: 01/16/2021 05:45 am »
If someone sounding authoritative had said the pathfinder engines already delivered to ULA came from Kent I'd believe that based on the video. The video gives the impression the site is intended for eventual mass production (i.e. a continuously running assembly line) but that when they filmed they had completed only initial production (i.e. a number of parts were run through the line and then they paused for qualification, assembly, etc. of the parts produced.) I imagine another room somewhere they didn't show us, filled with half-assembled engines where parts were being swapped around to assure that no matter which tool had produced the part it would fit together with other parts and function properly — and other similar hijinks — to build confidence in the production tooling.
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Online ThatOldJanxSpirit

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #17 on: 01/16/2021 09:10 am »

I am sooo disappointed with the comments here.  Really, first class conspiracy stuff, and from some long-time members I used to respect,  I know, the whole Florida operation--all those big bldgs and stuff--and that Alabama plant--all paper mache.

Some of us have spent decades wandering through manufacturing facilities including clean rooms. I’ve simply never seen anything so tidy and empty at any operational lifecycle stage.  I agree this was probably weekend (nobody in reception) but to all appearances the parts of the facility we saw looked to be barely used.

This isn’t a conspiracy, just (over)analysis of the tiny scraps of data we get from Blue.

It’s also an unintended consequence of closing the (admittedly awful) ‘whose approach is better’ thread. We fact starved Blue watchers have to talk about something.

Offline AlexP

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #18 on: 01/16/2021 10:19 am »
https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/1336059161621229569

We also know they're now doing the final qualification checks before finalising the design, so presumably production only ramps up once that is done.

Offline JCRM

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Re: Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #19 on: 01/16/2021 10:20 am »
Clearly they're not in fulltime production, but I wouldn't expect them to be until the first couple had been signed off by the customer.

If there had been any half-complete items in view you can bet there'd be people here estimating sizes and extrapolating performance...

From my time spent working on the software systems on car production lines I know they can be cleared down reasonably quickly if an "outsider" is coming in when you're working on a new model. And I sure as hell tidy my desk if I know there's going to be a video taken in the area.


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