Author Topic: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory  (Read 45993 times)

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #40 on: 02/15/2022 12:26 pm »
Hello, I am interested in the status of the Test Stand 4670.... the last report was from mid July last year... has Blue Origin completed their remediation of the test stand, and started engine testing there?
I don't know if they are done or not, but I haven't heard any tests yet. Based on how loud the hot gas facility was a few weeks ago, I assume a BE-4 starting up would be very noticeable.
« Last Edit: 02/15/2022 12:28 pm by Gliderflyer »
I tried it at home

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #41 on: 02/15/2022 07:50 pm »
Hello, I am interested in the status of the Test Stand 4670.... the last report was from mid July last year... has Blue Origin completed their remediation of the test stand, and started engine testing there?
I don't know if they are done or not, but I haven't heard any tests yet. Based on how loud the hot gas facility was a few weeks ago, I assume a BE-4 starting up would be very noticeable.

Thank you, if you live in Hunstville, perhaps you could go up to the test stand and check out the status? Ask around?  Any updates would be greatly appreciated... !

Online Robert_the_Doll

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #42 on: 02/15/2022 11:06 pm »
Hello, I am interested in the status of the Test Stand 4670.... the last report was from mid July last year... has Blue Origin completed their remediation of the test stand, and started engine testing there?

This article from about two months ago has the most up to date information that I know of 4670's status:

https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2021/12/21/brevard-co--commission-s-resolution-commends-blue-origin-s-reconstruction-of-launch-pad-for-new-glenn-rocket

Thank you, yes, I saw that article as well and posted it to Reddit back in December when it came out.... sure there must be some-one this group that lives in Huntsville and is no subject to a nondisclosure agreement.... that might be able to enlighten us..? I suspect that this stand has a critical path impact on testing of the BE-4 Engine, and all up testing of the new clean first stage... As it would be capable of testing all seven engines at the same time... As it was used previously for testing the seven5 first stage....

"Refurbishment on a 1960’s era test stand is being finished up at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville to be able to test the rate production of BE-4 and BE-3U engines. The team aims to have the first test performed in the first quarter of 2022."

The reason we have not seen anything is largely due to the greater than expected damage to the facility from it sitting out, unused, and with no maintenance for decades. This article here explains that:

https://www.al.com/news/2020/07/blue-origins-big-job-restoring-an-apollo-test-stand-in-huntsville.html#:~:text=The%20restoration%20means%20no%20engine,tests%20will%20happen%20at%204670.&text=Test%20Stand%204670%20was%20finished%20in%201965.

"“As we performed mitigation and sandblasting work, we discovered significant corrosion in the primary structure including rust that penetrated through 3-inch steel plates” lead engineer Scott Henderson said. Corrosion was expected - the stand has been out in the weather since the 1960 - but holes in 3-inch steel were not.

“Essentially, that’s where the 400 tons of steel we’re adding (to the stand) come into play,” Henderson said. “That’s not all replacing of rusted steel, but a significant part is. Some of that structural steel is unique to project to provide the stiffness necessary to very accurately measure engine thrust.… “

The restoration means no engine testing before September 2021, but Blue Origin engine tests will happen at 4670."

Also, there is no indication that I can find that says that testing of a whole New Glenn first stage, ala the Saturn V S-IC testing in the mid-1960s will occur.The only testing will be acceptance testing of production BE-4s and BE-3Us as they come out of the Huntsville factory for use on Vulcan and New Glenn.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2022 03:29 am by Robert_the_Doll »

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #43 on: 02/15/2022 11:51 pm »
Hello, I am interested in the status of the Test Stand 4670.... the last report was from mid July last year... has Blue Origin completed their remediation of the test stand, and started engine testing there?

This article from about two months ago has the most up to date information that I know of 4670's status:

https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2021/12/21/brevard-co--commission-s-resolution-commends-blue-origin-s-reconstruction-of-launch-pad-for-new-glenn-rocket

Thank you, yes, I saw that article as well and posted it to Reddit back in December when it came out.... sure there must be some-one this group that lives in Huntsville and is no subject to a nondisclosure agreement.... that might be able to enlighten us..? I suspect that this stand has a critical path impact on testing of the BE-4 Engine, and all up testing of the new clean first stage... As it would be capable of testing all seven engines at the same time... As it was used previously for testing the seven5 first stage....

"Refurbishment on a 1960’s era test stand is being finished up at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville to be able to test the rate production of BE-4 and BE-3U engines. The team aims to have the first test performed in the first quarter of 2022."

The reason we have not seen anything is largely due to the greater than expected damage to the facility from it sitting out, unused, and with no maintenance for decades. This article here explains that:

https://www.al.com/news/2020/07/blue-origins-big-job-restoring-an-apollo-test-stand-in-huntsville.html#:~:text=The%20restoration%20means%20no%20engine,tests%20will%20happen%20at%204670.&text=Test%20Stand%204670%20was%20finished%20in%201965.

"“As we performed mitigation and sandblasting work, we discovered significant corrosion in the primary structure including rust that penetrated through 3-inch steel plates” lead engineer Scott Henderson said. Corrosion was expected - the stand has been out in the weather since the 1960 - but holes in 3-inch steel were not.

“Essentially, that’s where the 400 tons of steel we’re adding (to the stand) come into play,” Henderson said. “That’s not all replacing of rusted steel, but a significant part is. Some of that structural steel is unique to project to provide the stiffness necessary to very accurately measure engine thrust.… “

The restoration means no engine testing before September 2021, but Blue Origin engine tests will happen at 4670."

Also, there is no indication that I can find that says that testing of a whole New Glenn first stage, ala the Saturn V S-IC testing in the mid-1960s.The only testing will be acceptance testing of production BE-4s and BE-3Us as they come out of the Huntsville factory for use on Vulcan and New Glenn.

Thank you. Much appreciate any further updates on your observations you have going forward would be appreciated. All the best!

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #44 on: 03/10/2022 09:09 am »
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket engine company expanding in Alabama

[ https://www.al.com/news/2022/03/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-rocket-engine-company-expanding-in-alabama.html ]

edit/gongora:  Trimmed, do not post entire articles.
« Last Edit: 03/11/2022 01:20 pm by gongora »

Offline spacenut

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #45 on: 03/10/2022 12:50 pm »
Is this the BE-3U they will be testing, not the regular BE-3 they are already using on New Sheppard?

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #46 on: 03/10/2022 02:13 pm »
Is this the BE-3U they will be testing, not the regular BE-3 they are already using on New Sheppard?

Very likely yes.

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #47 on: 03/10/2022 03:28 pm »
Is this the BE-3U they will be testing, not the regular BE-3 they are already using on New Sheppard?

Very likely yes.
They need high production volumes for BE3U as NG will expend a couple per mission. BE3 is very low volume as only used on reuseable NS, so likely to keep production at Kent.

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Offline GWH

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #48 on: 03/11/2022 02:04 am »
The factory in Hunstville is supposed to be capable of 42 engines per year, as built before this expansion:
https://spacenews.com/blue-origin-opens-rocket-engine-factory/

That's both BE-3U and BE-4, where 300+ employees would have been required for that production level.

That was in February 2020 they said they needed over 300 employees to make 42 engines, now in March 2022 they are saying they already had over 300 in 2020 and are now adding an additional 300. Double the planned head count.

So are they increasing their production above 42 engines per year, or did they underestimate the personnel requirements as half what they actually require?

With 42 (ok 43) engines per year you can build:

- 1 fresh New Glenn annually: 7 BE-4 engines
- 8 Vulcan flights: 16 BE-4 engines
- 10 New Glenn flights: 20 BE-3U engines

That's a lot of production as is, especially so given that 1 New Glenn should be good for 25 launches, Vulcan will eventually feature SMART reuse, and maybe one day project Jarvis will result in reused BE-3Us.

Why do they need this extra capacity?
Did they grossly underestimate the throughput of the factory?
Do they foresee a large increase in demand that is out of sync with current flight rates?
Or is this just a case of trying to throw money at a problem: BE-4 delays in production?

Offline niwax

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #49 on: 03/11/2022 07:30 am »
The factory in Hunstville is supposed to be capable of 42 engines per year, as built before this expansion:
https://spacenews.com/blue-origin-opens-rocket-engine-factory/

That's both BE-3U and BE-4, where 300+ employees would have been required for that production level.

That was in February 2020 they said they needed over 300 employees to make 42 engines, now in March 2022 they are saying they already had over 300 in 2020 and are now adding an additional 300. Double the planned head count.

So are they increasing their production above 42 engines per year, or did they underestimate the personnel requirements as half what they actually require?

With 42 (ok 43) engines per year you can build:

- 1 fresh New Glenn annually: 7 BE-4 engines
- 8 Vulcan flights: 16 BE-4 engines
- 10 New Glenn flights: 20 BE-3U engines

That's a lot of production as is, especially so given that 1 New Glenn should be good for 25 launches, Vulcan will eventually feature SMART reuse, and maybe one day project Jarvis will result in reused BE-3Us.

Why do they need this extra capacity?
Did they grossly underestimate the throughput of the factory?
Do they foresee a large increase in demand that is out of sync with current flight rates?
Or is this just a case of trying to throw money at a problem: BE-4 delays in production?

Extra capacity is a bit generous. Assuming they destroy two boosters before landing successfully, that cadence puts the start of operational missions at 2027 or later. Not to mention that combined Vulcan + NG flight rate of 20 at peak would barely make a dent in the market, considering there are at least two constellations looking for launch vehicles, plus Artemis and CLD.
Which booster has the most soot? SpaceX booster launch history! (discussion)

Offline GWH

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #50 on: 03/11/2022 05:25 pm »
Extra capacity is a bit generous. Assuming they destroy two boosters before landing successfully, that cadence puts the start of operational missions at 2027 or later. Not to mention that combined Vulcan + NG flight rate of 20 at peak would barely make a dent in the market, considering there are at least two constellations looking for launch vehicles, plus Artemis and CLD.

The cadence I wrote above is long term production needs. New Glenn development should require high production levels initially, tapering off to at the most 1 new booster per year. Vulcan on the other hand would just be ramping up its flight rate so production needs would be lower.


Expanding on that:

2022/2023 production
Vulcan on-ramp is 2 certification flights, followed by 3 USSF flights through 2022-2023. 10 Engines required.
The New Glenn test program you describe is 3 boosters, so 21 BE-4s, and 3 test flights for 6 BE3-Us.

That's 37 engines required for 2022/2023 assuming all goes well, Blue Origin would be doing extremely well to achieve that.

2024 production
For 2024 one might see New Glenn ramp up, 5 flights, and let's be generous by saying they add 3 more boosters bringing their fleet to 4. Enough booster capacity for 100 flights @ 25 uses/booster. 2024 production requirements for New Glenn = 31 engines. At this point Blue Origin could launch each booster only 3 times per year to achieve a flight rate of 12 with a service life of 8 years per booster.

That leaves 11 engines for ULA for 2024, enough for 5.5 flights.

2025 and on, refer to the estimate above.



Other factors:

- Artemis will only require a handful of commercial flights for CLPS until LETS is sorted. Should Dynetics win that then there are 5 Vulcan flights, or 10 engines required in a single year.

- Historically ULA was launching on average 12 times a year between 2011 and 2016, but since then has been 8 or less. 2011-2016 was when ULA had a monopoly on DOD launches, SpaceX didn't conduct a military launch until 2017.

- 10 launches of New Glenn is 450 tonnes of constellation to LEO assuming they pack out that cavernous 7 meter fairing.

- The production facility at Kent still exists, and should be able to supplement production capacity during the initial surge years.

- While Russia has removed its rockets from the global market, new launcher from Ariane Space, Mitsubishi, Rocket Lab, Relativity all can potentially absorb some of the market and upcoming launches.

- If ULA follows through on their reuse plans, which they would be very SMART to do, their production requirements drop off to maintenance levels of a few engines per year.

- If Blue Origin's project Jarvis is successful then the need for new BE-3Us drops off substantially.

- For whatever growth occurs in the market, its a safe assumption that SpaceX sees an equal growth. It is not unreasonable to assume that if 10 more launches are required in a year SpaceX picks up half.


I just don't see it. In the long term production requirements should drop OFF, even as flight rates increase, due to ever increasing reuse. Going strictly by head count this suggests they expect production to DOUBLE, at best I could see a 20% shortfall that is very short lived and could be made up in Kent.

But should anyone have any insight into something I'm missing please chime in.

Offline MaxTeranous

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #51 on: 03/13/2022 10:05 pm »
You’re assuming there that Blue never lose a New Glenn booster. The likelihood of booster 1 lasting a 25 full flights is vanishingly small. Heck it may not make it off the pad once (space is hard). Gotta up the numbers of engines needed for NG boosters IMO

Offline AnnK

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #52 on: 03/14/2022 12:44 am »
It will be expensive to get insurance for the first commercial flight. I could let them use my 87 Firebird as a mass simulator. OK, being serious New Glenn or Vulcan has not flown a single test flight. It needs to have 3 to 5 successful test flights before being approved for commercial use and even more before being crew rated.
Ad Astra per Aspera

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #53 on: 03/14/2022 08:55 am »
It will be expensive to get insurance for the first commercial flight. I could let them use my 87 Firebird as a mass simulator. OK, being serious New Glenn or Vulcan has not flown a single test flight. It needs to have 3 to 5 successful test flights before being approved for commercial use and even more before being crew rated.
The Vulcan Centaur and the New Glenn needs about 3 flights before commercial insurance is available for commercial flights.

However in the case of the New Glenn, the insurance could be from one of companies that
Bezos have.

Also it will surprise me if there are more than a handful of commercial flights for the Vulcan Centaur during it's service life.

Offline edzieba

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #54 on: 03/14/2022 11:15 am »
It will be expensive to get insurance for the first commercial flight. I could let them use my 87 Firebird as a mass simulator. OK, being serious New Glenn or Vulcan has not flown a single test flight. It needs to have 3 to 5 successful test flights before being approved for commercial use and even more before being crew rated.
The Vulcan Centaur and the New Glenn needs about 3 flights before commercial insurance is available for commercial flights.

However in the case of the New Glenn, the insurance could be from one of companies that
Bezos have.

Also it will surprise me if there are more than a handful of commercial flights for the Vulcan Centaur during it's service life.
If BO wish, they could provide insurance for their initial commercial launches ("Your payload in orbit or your money back, plus a bonus!") rather than engaging a middleman. There is no requirement for commercial launches to take out launch insurance, it's just a really bad idea not to.

Offline GWH

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #55 on: 03/14/2022 03:15 pm »
You’re assuming there that Blue never lose a New Glenn booster. The likelihood of booster 1 lasting a 25 full flights is vanishingly small. Heck it may not make it off the pad once (space is hard). Gotta up the numbers of engines needed for NG boosters IMO

I just stated the maximum theoretical use of each booster.  What I also wrote is 2 boosters lost in testing as per Niwax's suggestion, and then that they would keep building a new booster every year.

As I wrote: in 2024 they have 4 boosters for only 5 flights. Then a new one built the following year and each year following. That would average out to 10 flights per booster total within that given production level. 

Say they lose additional 2 boosters in 2024, then in 2025 they add the new build and have a fleet of 3, for 10 flights. 3 Flights per booster, 3.3 month refurb, each. A total of 4 boosters lost, in 2 years, and capacity to lose another one once a year.

I guess they could plan for even more failures? IMO the production rates I wrote out support a reasonable rate of recovery failure, higher than that would be a failure of design. From what we've heard on rumours for New Glenn their build cost of a single stage is very expensive.



Another possibility is that they are simply way behind and need to make up production. If the total build time of an engine is months, and they are just beginning meaningful production now then the numbers above don't really work.  If that's the case then they need to build out capacity now that is well above what is more of an ideal sustainable level in order to play catch up.
« Last Edit: 03/14/2022 03:23 pm by GWH »

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #56 on: 03/15/2022 03:15 pm »
It will be expensive to get insurance for the first commercial flight. I could let them use my 87 Firebird as a mass simulator. OK, being serious New Glenn or Vulcan has not flown a single test flight. It needs to have 3 to 5 successful test flights before being approved for commercial use and even more before being crew rated.
The Vulcan Centaur and the New Glenn needs about 3 flights before commercial insurance is available for commercial flights.

However in the case of the New Glenn, the insurance could be from one of companies that
Bezos have.

Also it will surprise me if there are more than a handful of commercial flights for the Vulcan Centaur during it's service life.
If BO wish, they could provide insurance for their initial commercial launches ("Your payload in orbit or your money back, plus a bonus!") rather than engaging a middleman. There is no requirement for commercial launches to take out launch insurance, it's just a really bad idea not to.
We are in agreement. If BO provide the insurance for their initial commercial launches, it isn't really commercial insurance.

Online Robert_the_Doll

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #57 on: 03/17/2022 09:11 pm »
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket engine company expanding in Alabama

[ https://www.al.com/news/2022/03/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-rocket-engine-company-expanding-in-alabama.html ]

edit/gongora:  Trimmed, do not post entire articles.

An excellent find! The local news outlets seem to be better for getting the inside scoops for what Blue Origin is doing than many of the main aerospace new organizations. This answers part of the questions I had in joining NASAspaceflight, namely what Huntsville was doing and now we know the following:

1.) The past year they've been supplying parts to Kent with BE-4 and BE-3U parts until sometime relatively recently when they started to switch over to production of their own engines.

2.) Now that they are in production, they are producing not one, but a set of BE-4s and possibly a set of BE-3Us as well.

3.) Marshall test stand 4670 is targeting the first test firing within two months time with a BE-3U firing and then sometime shortly thereafter, BE-4.

Very encouraging news indeed that Blue Origin can meet its obligations to ULA and to itself.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #58 on: 03/17/2022 11:58 pm »
It will be expensive to get insurance for the first commercial flight. I could let them use my 87 Firebird as a mass simulator. OK, being serious New Glenn or Vulcan has not flown a single test flight. It needs to have 3 to 5 successful test flights before being approved for commercial use and even more before being crew rated.
The Vulcan Centaur and the New Glenn needs about 3 flights before commercial insurance is available for commercial flights.

However in the case of the New Glenn, the insurance could be from one of companies that
Bezos have.

Also it will surprise me if there are more than a handful of commercial flights for the Vulcan Centaur during it's service life.
If BO wish, they could provide insurance for their initial commercial launches ("Your payload in orbit or your money back, plus a bonus!") rather than engaging a middleman. There is no requirement for commercial launches to take out launch insurance, it's just a really bad idea not to.
We are in agreement. If BO provide the insurance for their initial commercial launches, it isn't really commercial insurance.

Thats not how things work. Loss of satellite is more than money, its years of time, both to rebuild, and lost time you cannot run use it. Insurance or not, its a HUGE commercial deal

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #59 on: 03/18/2022 02:32 am »
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket engine company expanding in Alabama

[ https://www.al.com/news/2022/03/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-rocket-engine-company-expanding-in-alabama.html ]

edit/gongora:  Trimmed, do not post entire articles.

An excellent find! The local news outlets seem to be better for getting the inside scoops for what Blue Origin is doing than many of the main aerospace new organizations. This answers part of the questions I had in joining NASAspaceflight, namely what Huntsville was doing and now we know the following:

1.) The past year they've been supplying parts to Kent with BE-4 and BE-3U parts until sometime relatively recently when they started to switch over to production of their own engines.

2.) Now that they are in production, they are producing not one, but a set of BE-4s and possibly a set of BE-3Us as well.

3.) Marshall test stand 4670 is targeting the first test firing within two months time with a BE-3U firing and then sometime shortly thereafter, BE-4.

Very encouraging news indeed that Blue Origin can meet its obligations to ULA and to itself.

Thank you concerning the article… [ https://www.al.com/news/2022/03/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-rocket-engine-company-expanding-in-alabama.html ], and your comments, and especially point 3:

"3.) Marshall test stand 4670 is targeting the first test firing within two months time with a BE-3U firing and then sometime shortly thereafter, BE-4.”…


This test stand is an item I have been tracking for some time… but with respet to “….is targeting the first test firing within two months time with a BE-3U…”

I am excited if they are to start using this critical resource within the next two months, but the article was more vague…
"Harris said he expects to be testing the BE-3 “in the next couple of months followed shortly by the BE-4.”…

If you do not mind me asking, where did one get the ‘two month” reference from…. insider info?

Thank you.

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