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Jeff Bezos’ rocket company is testing its huge engine again!

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Washington-based aerospace firm Blue Origin, owned and controlled by retail billionaire Jeff Bezos, tested its BE-4 rocket engine once more before sending it to United Launch Alliance (ULA) for its latest Vulcan Centaur rocket. The Centaur is a heavy-lift launch vehicle that is one of three new-generation launch vehicles currently under development in America, and is the first of them that could make a flight next year. The engine successfully passed the four and a half minute test, which also covers the time it will spend in flight. Like SpaceX’s Raptor engines for its Starship rocket, the BE-4 also uses methane as a fuel, the engine being another that has switched from gas as a fuel.

Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine is on its way to Decatur for assembly into a ULA Vulcan rocket

The video was posted on Twitter by ULA Superintendent Mr. Tory Bruno and it appeared after the Chief shared another video at the end of the last month of full-fledged firing of the BE-4. These firings represent a crucial point in engine development, as they confirm that all components are capable of withstanding the full stress of an actual launch.

It is also the main engine of the Vulcan and New Glenn, making it crucial to the US space program. New Glenn is Blue Origin’s heavy-lift vehicle, which uses seven BE-4s on the first stage to generate a maximum thrust of 3.8 million pounds. The Vulcan, on the other hand, uses four of those engines to generate 1.1 million pounds of thrust, and the rocket is a replacement for ULA’s Delta line, which uses Russian-made engines.

Its second or upper stage is also one of the few in the world that will use a nozzle extender for its rocket engines. This expansion is also used by the Delta IV Heavy’s cryogenic second stage and helps improve the engine’s fuel efficiency. On the Centaur (the name of the second stage of the Vulcan rocket), this expansion will allow the rocket to deliver heavier payloads to the desired orbits.

The BE-4 is also one of America’s largest rocket engines, as it produces more thrust than SpaceX’s Raptor and Rocketdyne’s Aerojet RS-25 engine. Together, the trio will power this decade’s missiles, with the Raptor, BE-4, and RS-25 producing 510,000, 540,000, and 512,000 pounds of thrust, respectively.

However, despite the fact that the BE-4 is more powerful, in the end it is the SpaceX Starship rocket that will take the crown of the world’s largest rocket. This is due to the fact that the Starship will use 33 Raptor 2 engines to generate a whopping 7.5 million pounds of thrust. Currently, SpaceX’s largest rocket is the Falcon Heavy, which is capable of generating 5.1 million pounds of thrust by combining three Falcon 9 boosters for a total of 27 Merlin 1D engines.

Rocket and engine design go hand in hand, and engine size is often determined by the rocket’s design goals. Starship’s classification as a super-heavy rocket is simply due to the fact that it is intended to be used as a gateway to Mars. To do this, the upper stage, which separates after the rocket leaves most of the Earth’s gravity, must be larger and contain more payload. This increases the overall weight and requires the rocket itself to be larger as well.

On the other hand, neither Centaur nor New Glenn are designed for such missions, although they should also be capable of sending payloads to Mars like any other large rocket. The Vulcan’s first flight is due next year, and SpaceX is actively developing its rocket in Texas as it prepares to conduct a long-awaited static fire test of all 33 engines at once.


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