Author Topic: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory  (Read 47882 times)

Offline Robert_the_Doll

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #60 on: 03/19/2022 03:32 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.

You are welcome. It has been good to see that there are people here actually interested in providing and learning new things about what Blue Origin is actually doing and has accomplished in terms of milestones in an objective and rational manner. So my many thanks to you.

As for your question, it is answered in the article:

"We’re getting very close,” Harris said. “They’re still doing quite a bit of retrofitting. As you learn, anytime you retrofit something that’s over 60 years old, it takes a little bit more and there’s a little bit more that you unearth that was undiscovered.”

Harris said he expects to be testing the BE-3 “in the next couple of months followed shortly by the BE-4.”

“We’re growing with our capability over at Test Stand 4670,” Harris said. “As I always tell the team, within the next couple of months, I look forward to hearing Blue Roar as you start seeing us test engines over at the historic site over there.”

Offline trimeta

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #61 on: 03/19/2022 06:11 pm »
You are welcome. It has been good to see that there are people here actually interested in providing and learning new things about what Blue Origin is actually doing and has accomplished in terms of milestones in an objective and rational manner. So my many thanks to you.

As for your question, it is answered in the article:

"We’re getting very close,” Harris said. “They’re still doing quite a bit of retrofitting. As you learn, anytime you retrofit something that’s over 60 years old, it takes a little bit more and there’s a little bit more that you unearth that was undiscovered.”

Harris said he expects to be testing the BE-3 “in the next couple of months followed shortly by the BE-4.”

“We’re growing with our capability over at Test Stand 4670,” Harris said. “As I always tell the team, within the next couple of months, I look forward to hearing Blue Roar as you start seeing us test engines over at the historic site over there.”

Per xkcd:

Offline Redclaws

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #62 on: 03/19/2022 06:17 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

Except almost all of that has, for most companies, an equivalent $ value.  If insurance isn’t enough to cover other costs, then they didn’t insure it for enough.  That an item has to be insured for only its immediate replacement cost is a common restriction but not at all universal.

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #63 on: 04/05/2022 03:55 pm »

This is an image of the Test Stand 4670 from the 11/19/2020 at grid reference 34.630100,-86.672400 on Google Earth.

With this:
1. what is the test stand to the bottom right? This is new. Compare this to...
https://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/video/view-of-4670-saturn-v-static-test-stand-at-nasa-stock-video-footage/170209440

It does not appear to be a test stand for an engine.. pressure testing of a rocket stage?

2. What is being built next to the crane, on the cleared area next to the two buildings with the purple roofs, as this does not appear on the Google Maps image [that appears to be taken some months before the Google Earth image]...
https://goo.gl/maps/qEDgVFADQ1DFyuoC9

[The Google Maps image appears to be from 2016.

3. What is being built in the upper left of the image? What would these be for? They do appear to be close to the rocket engine vent, and so would be subject to considerable heat and vibration...

By using the Historic Imagery View in Google Earth, some further observations and questions:
1. They appear to have built an additional smaller tank next to the two large tanks... would this be for the Methane?
2. When an engine test is running, where would if be controlled? Would it be controlled from the rectangular building at the bottom? What would the sound level there?
3. How do they cool the rocket engine exhaust vent?

PS: Here is a close up of the test stand on Google Earth on the 11/19/2020...



These are the most recent images I can find... as they are now about 18 months old.... has anyone got any more up to date images?
« Last Edit: 04/05/2022 04:14 pm by DrHeywoodFloyd »

Offline GWH

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #64 on: 04/05/2022 04:24 pm »
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?


Oh ok - there's the large increase in demand.
What would be 76 more BE-4's for Vulcan although ULA has just stated that they plan to move ahead on SMART recovery.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #65 on: 04/05/2022 05:10 pm »
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?


Oh ok - there's the large increase in demand.
What would be 76 more BE-4's for Vulcan although ULA has just stated that they plan to move ahead on SMART recovery.
I'll believe it when I see it. They've been talking about SMART for years, its a panacea against "what about spaceX". If ULA was actually serious on it, they still need permission from both Boeing AND Lockheed Martin to do that.

Offline GWH

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #66 on: 04/05/2022 05:19 pm »
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?


Oh ok - there's the large increase in demand.
What would be 76 more BE-4's for Vulcan although ULA has just stated that they plan to move ahead on SMART recovery.
I'll believe it when I see it. They've been talking about SMART for years, its a panacea against "what about spaceX". If ULA was actually serious on it, they still need permission from both Boeing AND Lockheed Martin to do that.

ok.

https://twitter.com/Free_Space/status/1511360115752026116

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #67 on: 04/05/2022 06:24 pm »
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?


Oh ok - there's the large increase in demand.
What would be 76 more BE-4's for Vulcan although ULA has just stated that they plan to move ahead on SMART recovery.
I'll believe it when I see it. They've been talking about SMART for years, its a panacea against "what about spaceX". If ULA was actually serious on it, they still need permission from both Boeing AND Lockheed Martin to do that.

ok.

https://twitter.com/Free_Space/status/1511360115752026116
Which is EXACTLY what ULA has said multiple times. I'd be VERY happy if they do it, but since they've talked it up so many times, its only reasonable to be skeptical

Offline Robert_the_Doll

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #68 on: 04/05/2022 07:01 pm »
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?


Oh ok - there's the large increase in demand.
What would be 76 more BE-4's for Vulcan although ULA has just stated that they plan to move ahead on SMART recovery.
I'll believe it when I see it. They've been talking about SMART for years, its a panacea against "what about spaceX". If ULA was actually serious on it, they still need permission from both Boeing AND Lockheed Martin to do that.

ok.

https://twitter.com/Free_Space/status/1511360115752026116
Which is EXACTLY what ULA has said multiple times. I'd be VERY happy if they do it, but since they've talked it up so many times, its only reasonable to be skeptical

But what is different now is this massive influx of potential cash to ULA that at least justifies the costs associated with the expense of developing out SMART to their parent companies. Now, the real issue for me is if the current engine section for Vulcan has baked into it the necessary spacing and such needed for SMART to be implemented. Otherwise a very major redesign and rebuilding will be needed to account for the room the decelerator, parachutes and such will require, and then there will be the modifications to the launch pad and GSE to support the increase in size.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #69 on: 05/02/2022 03:34 pm »
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?


Oh ok - there's the large increase in demand.
What would be 76 more BE-4's for Vulcan although ULA has just stated that they plan to move ahead on SMART recovery.
I'll believe it when I see it. They've been talking about SMART for years, its a panacea against "what about spaceX". If ULA was actually serious on it, they still need permission from both Boeing AND Lockheed Martin to do that.

ok.

*snip tweet*

Which is EXACTLY what ULA has said multiple times. I'd be VERY happy if they do it, but since they've talked it up so many times, its only reasonable to be skeptical

But what is different now is this massive influx of potential cash to ULA that at least justifies the costs associated with the expense of developing out SMART to their parent companies. Now, the real issue for me is if the current engine section for Vulcan has baked into it the necessary spacing and such needed for SMART to be implemented. Otherwise a very major redesign and rebuilding will be needed to account for the room the decelerator, parachutes and such will require, and then there will be the modifications to the launch pad and GSE to support the increase in size.

ULA has recently said they are going to have to build a second transporter / launch platform and a new integration building. They could make the new one specifically with any design changes for SMART in mind, and continue use the existing one until the new one comes on line, then modify the old one.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2022 03:36 pm by whitelancer64 »
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #70 on: 05/02/2022 04:13 pm »
SNIP
Which is EXACTLY what ULA has said multiple times. I'd be VERY happy if they do it, but since they've talked it up so many times, its only reasonable to be skeptical

But what is different now is this massive influx of potential cash to ULA that at least justifies the costs associated with the expense of developing out SMART to their parent companies. Now, the real issue for me is if the current engine section for Vulcan has baked into it the necessary spacing and such needed for SMART to be implemented. Otherwise a very major redesign and rebuilding will be needed to account for the room the decelerator, parachutes and such will require, and then there will be the modifications to the launch pad and GSE to support the increase in size.

This is all guesses and hopes. Do I hope ULA actually goes through with SMART? Of course I do. Yet nothing has changed. SMART will still cost just as much to develop, which doesn't change the fact that ULA parents might choose to take the profit instead.

Offline GWH

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #71 on: 05/03/2022 12:58 pm »
The irony of this Amazon contract giving so many launches to ULA over Blue is it may result in ULA buying less engines, not more.

If the tipping point for SMART was this contract, then the best possible return for ULA and it's parents is to get it done ASAP.

Previously ULA has 35 launches booked, 70 engines. Now an additional 38 flights.

At only 5 uses for each engine the entire 38 launch Amazon contract would only require 8 new engine pairs,  then if they can use SMART on the last 20 originally booked flights they would only need 4 new pairs.  Add in 15 pairs for  the first 15 Vulcan flights for a total of 27 pairs- 54 engines total vs the original 70.

Offline Robert_the_Doll

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #72 on: 05/03/2022 07:47 pm »
The irony of this Amazon contract giving so many launches to ULA over Blue is it may result in ULA buying less engines, not more.

If the tipping point for SMART was this contract, then the best possible return for ULA and it's parents is to get it done ASAP.

Previously ULA has 35 launches booked, 70 engines. Now an additional 38 flights.

At only 5 uses for each engine the entire 38 launch Amazon contract would only require 8 new engine pairs,  then if they can use SMART on the last 20 originally booked flights they would only need 4 new pairs.  Add in 15 pairs for  the first 15 Vulcan flights for a total of 27 pairs- 54 engines total vs the original 70.

As we have seen with Rocket Lab yesterday, catching the engine module mid-air has a chance of not succeeding on the first or even second try. Alternatively, if ULA goes back to Boeing's original concept for a recoverable engine module that would splashdown into the ocean, then it makes things much easier and safer.

https://web.archive.org/web/19970118100149/https://www.boeing.com/news.release.960620.html

Online edzieba

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #73 on: 05/04/2022 01:39 pm »
The irony of this Amazon contract giving so many launches to ULA over Blue is it may result in ULA buying less engines, not more.

If the tipping point for SMART was this contract, then the best possible return for ULA and it's parents is to get it done ASAP.

Previously ULA has 35 launches booked, 70 engines. Now an additional 38 flights.

At only 5 uses for each engine the entire 38 launch Amazon contract would only require 8 new engine pairs,  then if they can use SMART on the last 20 originally booked flights they would only need 4 new pairs.  Add in 15 pairs for  the first 15 Vulcan flights for a total of 27 pairs- 54 engines total vs the original 70.

As we have seen with Rocket Lab yesterday, catching the engine module mid-air has a chance of not succeeding on the first or even second try. Alternatively, if ULA goes back to Boeing's original concept for a recoverable engine module that would splashdown into the ocean, then it makes things much easier and safer.

https://web.archive.org/web/19970118100149/https://www.boeing.com/news.release.960620.html
As we also saw with the exact same Rocket Lab test (and every single film bucket return, of which there were several hundred over 3 decades): ditching in the ocean is a backup, but it is far more desirable not to dunk your equipment into seawater in the first place.

Offline Robert_the_Doll

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #74 on: 05/05/2022 07:55 pm »
The irony of this Amazon contract giving so many launches to ULA over Blue is it may result in ULA buying less engines, not more.

If the tipping point for SMART was this contract, then the best possible return for ULA and it's parents is to get it done ASAP.

Previously ULA has 35 launches booked, 70 engines. Now an additional 38 flights.

At only 5 uses for each engine the entire 38 launch Amazon contract would only require 8 new engine pairs,  then if they can use SMART on the last 20 originally booked flights they would only need 4 new pairs.  Add in 15 pairs for  the first 15 Vulcan flights for a total of 27 pairs- 54 engines total vs the original 70.

As we have seen with Rocket Lab yesterday, catching the engine module mid-air has a chance of not succeeding on the first or even second try. Alternatively, if ULA goes back to Boeing's original concept for a recoverable engine module that would splashdown into the ocean, then it makes things much easier and safer.

https://web.archive.org/web/19970118100149/https://www.boeing.com/news.release.960620.html
As we also saw with the exact same Rocket Lab test (and every single film bucket return, of which there were several hundred over 3 decades): ditching in the ocean is a backup, but it is far more desirable not to dunk your equipment into seawater in the first place.

However, the primary difference from Boeing's original EELV engine recovery method versus the Rocket Lab and the Corona program's recovery method is that landing in the ocean is that recovery by a ship is baked into the process from the beginning. Part of the testing the boilerplate module referenced in the press release I linked to was to characterize and demonstrate that the RS-25 could survive a water landing and there would be little to no water intrusion that would damage sensitive equipment.

They were highly successful at this.

SpaceX eventually came around to just letting Falcon 9 fairings fall into the water when they found out that the fairings did just fine. Granted, it was a very simple system there, but if you design for this from the get-go, this is a far less dangerous and more economical means of recovery.

Also, the size of the SMART module can be inferred from the older Boeing module since they are of a similar size for a rocket of comparable dimensions to Vulcan; + or - 20,000 lbs/9,000 kg.

« Last Edit: 06/19/2022 06:34 pm by Robert_the_Doll »

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #75 on: 05/10/2022 12:57 pm »
Blue Origin’s facelift of historic NASA test stand presents challenges

https://huntsvillebusinessjournal.com/lead/2022/05/09/blue-origins-facelift-of-historic-nasa-test-stand-presents-challenges/

Longtime city residents will recognize the thundering sounds and the shaking of area structures when NASA’s historic 4670 Test Stand at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is once again ready to play a key role in the country’s space exploration.

The 300-foot tall stand, first employed in 1965 to support the Apollo program’s Saturn V rocket and later in service for the Space Shuttle and RD-180 Atlas rockets into the coming decades, has been  inactive since 1998.

But 4670 will once again roar to life when Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space rocket venture, completes a refurbishment project of the stand through a deal with NASA.

Boosters have been tested at MSFC as America gets ready to return to the Moon and beyond. But the rockets that will do the heavy lifting – BE-3U and BE-4 – have yet to be fired at 4670.

David Helderman, a Purdue University alum and aerospace engineer, is director of Alabama Test Operations for Blue Origin and leads the Test Stand 4670 Project. He said the BE-3U and BE-4 engines, which will support both Blue Origin’s New Glenn and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan space flight vehicles, are on schedule for testing later this year.

“The Saturn V was a seven-and-a-half million pounds of thrust that was tested on the test stand, so that definitely shook windows and everything a long distance away,’’ Helderman said. “Then in the eighties, the space shuttle main engines and RD-180 were an order of magnitude much more powerful.

“So that’s kind of what people often remember from the ’80s and ’90s. When we get into testing the BE-4 we’ll be at five hundred-and-fifty-thousand pounds of thrust. So it’ll be loud and people will hear it, but it won’t be near as loud as the Saturn V was back in the 60s.’’

Bob Smith, president of Blue Origin, previously promised the company would “provide for the refurbishment, restoration and modernization of this piece of American history – and bring the sounds of rocket engines firing back to Huntsville.’’

Getting the stand back into shape is no small task.

“The challenge that we’ve had is just dealing with the age of the test stand,’’ Helderman said. “Some parts of the test stand haven’t aged as well as others. We found some corroded steel and things like that that we’ve had to go into in-depth evaluation and then the repair or replacing in some cases some of those corroded steel members and things like that.

“So by and large our biggest challenge was just dealing with the age of the test stand and bringing it up to current standards and modernizing it.’’

According to Helderman, the 4670 team has embraced the history of the test stand since the start of the project.

“One of the coolest things about this whole project is the history,’’ he said. “We love that we’re building our history on history. It’s a cool, long history of America’s Space Program.

“I can tell you that the team out here, we love the history that goes with a test. And one of the big attractions for people to come work out here is being able to be a part of that history and carry on that legacy.’’

The BE-4 is the engine that engineers and explorers envision taking men, and women, to an eventual trip to the Red Planet and more.

“This is the rocket that’s going to enable our vision of millions of people living and working in space,’’ Helderman said. “That’s kind of the building block. It’s the first step of that situation that allows us to get a lot of things into space.

“It’ll allow us to build a space station like an orbital reef and will allow us to put people back on the moon. It will enable many many things beyond that fundamentally. It’s the heavy lift vehicle that’s going to allow us to put all sorts of things in space, which will open up space to generations to come and many things we haven’t even thought of yet.’’

Helderman wouldn’t hesitate to live in space, or on Mars.

“If I had the chance I would definitely go into space and I would I would live in pretty much anywhere in space as long as it was habitable,’’ he said.

>>> I think this article indicates that engine testing of the BE-3, 4 at Test Stand 4670 will start.."... later this year. "..
« Last Edit: 05/10/2022 01:01 pm by DrHeywoodFloyd »

Offline darkenfast

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #76 on: 05/10/2022 06:16 pm »
Quote from the article:

"Boosters have been tested at MSFC as America gets ready to return to the Moon and beyond. But the rockets that will do the heavy lifting – BE-3U and BE-4 – have yet to be fired at 4670."

I'll let that one speak for itself. Was that the reporter?

"David Helderman, a Purdue University alum and aerospace engineer, is director of Alabama Test Operations for Blue Origin and leads the Test Stand 4670 Project. He said the BE-3U and BE-4 engines, which will support both Blue Origin’s New Glenn and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan space flight vehicles, are on schedule for testing later this year.

“The Saturn V was a seven-and-a-half million pounds of thrust that was tested on the test stand, so that definitely shook windows and everything a long distance away,’’ Helderman said. “Then in the eighties, the space shuttle main engines and RD-180 were an order of magnitude much more powerful."

Caveat: As anybody who's ever been interviewed knows, what you say and what the reporter quotes you as saying in the article are often very different. Hopefully, that's the case here.
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Offline harrystranger

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #77 on: 10/22/2022 12:57 pm »
« Last Edit: 10/22/2022 01:03 pm by harrystranger »

Offline DrHeywoodFloyd

Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #78 on: 12/09/2022 04:06 am »
Does anyone know what is happening with the reconstruction of Test Stand 4670 into BE-4 production? Everything seems to have gone quiet?

The last update was...in  Jun. 21st 2022...
https://spaceexplored.com/2022/06/21/blue-origin-be-4-engine-test-stand-photos/

.. and everything seemed promising, but since then..... nothing....

Offline Starshipdown

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Re: Blue Origin's Huntsville Engine Factory
« Reply #79 on: 12/09/2022 07:07 pm »
I can't speak to who my source is, but I've heard the following:

Unfortunately, other than PQE-900 doing a shakedown firing or however many is needed, there probably won't be anything until Huntsville can be allowed to assemble full engines instead of bailing out Kent by sending them the parts they manufacture so Kent can keep up with building qual engines and the next couple sets of flight engines for Vulcan. It's just as well since there are still some lingering issues related to 4670's age that need to be taken care of.

Again, please treat this as rumor/speculation.

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