Blue Origin, the startup private spaceflight company founded by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, has successfully tested a new 100,000lb thrust rocket engine named BE-3.
Blue Origin is one of several companies involved in NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program – essentially a program to start innovation in private spaceflight funded by the US government but administered by NASA. On the whole they’ve been pretty quiet and low profile compared to some of their CCD program cousins like Space X, drawing accusations of being secretive about their development. The company’s own website only lists three news updates, two from last year and one from 2009.
Blue Origin made use of the E-1 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, successfully completing the test by powering the thrust chamber to its full power level – 100,000lb of thrust. Space X’s original Merlin 1A engine produced 90,000lb. The BE-3 engine runs using liquid Hydrogen as fuel and liquid Oxygen as its oxidiser.
“Blue Origin continues to be extremely innovative as it develops a crew-capable vehicle for suborbital and orbital flights,” said Ed Mango, CCP manager. “We’re thrilled the company’s engine test fire was met with success.”
“We are very excited to have demonstrated a new class of high-performance hydrogen engines,” said Rob Meyerson, president and program manager of Blue Origin. “Access to the Stennis test facility and its talented operations team was instrumental in conducting full-power testing of this new thrust chamber.”
While at Stennis, Blue Origin also took the opportunity to run some extensive wind tunnel tests of their bi-conic space vehicle design looking at stability during flight and cross-range maneuverability.
No video has yet emerged of the engine test – if anybody has a link please tweet it to me.
This article summarised from a NASA press release available here.