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Blue Origin’s BE-4 Engine Passes 100 Staged-Combustion Tests

By Caleb Henry | September 30, 2015
      Blue Origin BE-4

      Bleu Origin’s BE-4 engine. Photo: BE-4

      [Via Satellite 09-30-2015] Blue Origin has completed more than 100 staged-combustion tests for the BE-4 engine currently under development for United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan rocket and Blue Origin’s own Orbital Launch Vehicle. The test series confirmed pre-test predictions of injector performance, heat transfer, and combustion stability, providing measurable performance data in advance of the upcoming Critical Design Review (CDR).

      The staged-combustion testing configuration included a representative BE-4 preburner and regeneratively cooled thrust chamber using multiple full-scale injector elements. Data gathered during testing was used to refine the design of the preburner and main combustion chamber injector elements, main combustion chamber sizing, and the regenerative cooling configuration. Testing also demonstrated the critical manufacturing processes for the thrust chamber and nozzle, including the use of additive manufacturing.

      The BE-4 is a liquid oxygen, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) rocket engine that delivers 550,000-lbf of thrust at sea level. Blue Origin began development of the BE-4 in 2011. Hot-fire testing of engine hardware is ongoing at the company’s facilities in West Texas.