Blue Origin methane delivered to the engine in place of the Assembly of the test sample rocket Vulcan

Delivered Blue Origin methane engine BE-4 to the plant, which made missile Vulcan. As reported by Space News, the prototype engine is not certified for flight and is designed for ground tests of a future rocket that will replace the Atlas V — most modern rocket United Launch Alliance.

The US plans to completely abandon the purchase ofn RD-180 engines, which are currently used for the first stages of missiles Atlas V. this company United Launch Alliance is developing a successor of the Atlas-V, dubbed Vulcan. In its first stage will have a couple of engines of the BE-4, Blue Origin, each of which will develop a thrust of 2.4 meganewton, working on a couple fuel methane oxygen.

Methane is considered the most promising fuels for future rockets. Its efficiency is higher than that of kerosene, 380 seconds specific impulse vs 335. In addition, the methane to use much easier than hydrogen, which requires close to absolute zero temperatures and giant tanks.

The first of July the specimen BE-4 was delivered in the Assembly hall of the United Launch Alliance in Alabama. Blue Origin notes that this is a trial sample and it is not intended for flight into space. Flight is preceded by bench testing, which will run the entire rocket stage in the collection, and that these tests will be used imported engine. The supply of the second sample of the required pair is expected before the end of July.

Vulcan’s first flight is scheduled for 2021. It is expected that when using the upper stage “Centaurus” rocket can deliver into low-earth orbit of up to 27 tonnes, which is about one and a half exceeds the capacity of the Atlas V. United Launce Alliance hopes that the use of cheap methane will allow the company to compete with SpaceX prices. It is already known that the Vulcan will fly Dream Chaser of Sierra Nevada.

Blue Origin is gradually becoming a serious player in the market space: NASA recently chose the company to deliver people to the moon program Artemis. Except for Blue Origin, a plan to use methane in ambitious rocket from SpaceX Starship, the prototype of which, however, recently again exploded to the test.

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