Blue origin’s fourth generation liquid rocket engine, the BE-4 engine has been selected by United Launch Alliance to power their Vulcan Centaur rocket’s first stage.
BE-4 will replace the Russian made RD-180 engine which was previously used by the company.
The BE-4 e uses combustion of liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas to produce about 550,000 lbs of thrust. Natural gas can be used to pressurize a rocket’s propellant tanks which is much more cost effective than expensive pressurization systems based on helium etc.
The Vulcan centaur is an American heavy-payload launch vehicle by United Launch Alliance, which has been under development since the last four years. The project is funded by a public–private partnership with the U.S. government. The first launch of the rocket is expected in mid-2020.
“Vulcan Centaur will revolutionize spaceflight and provide affordable, reliable access to space for our current and future customers,”
Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO said in a statement.
“We are well on our way to the introduction of Vulcan Centaur – the future of U.S. rocket manufacturing. With state-of-the-art engineering and manufacturing techniques, this rocket is designed specifically for low recurring cost”, he said.