Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine exploded during June 30 test

Blue Origin's BE-4 rocket engine exploded during June 30 test | Enterprise wired

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According to CNBC, a spectacular failure of a powerful BE-4 rocket engine from Blue Origin occurred during testing last month. According to CNBC’s Michael Sheetz, the BE-4 engine, which will power the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, burst around 10 seconds into the test on June 30 at Blue Origin’s West Texas site.

People with knowledge of the anomaly “described having seen video of a dramatic explosion that destroyed the engine and heavily damaged the test stand infrastructure,” Sheetz wrote. According to Sheetz’s report, the engine was being prepared for the second Vulcan Centaur launch. In a statement provided to CNBC, Blue Origin acknowledged both that specific information and the testing mishap.

Working on corrective actions

Blue Origin representatives reportedly stated, “No personnel were injured, and we are currently assessing root cause,” according to Sheetz. The letter further stated that investigators had already identified the anomaly’s primary cause and were “working on corrective actions.”

Blue Origin further stated that it informed ULA about the situation right away. Additionally, the latter business—a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin—seems to not consider it to be a significant issue at present.

ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno emphasized through Twitter on Tuesday that the BE-4 has already been qualified for flight, demonstrating the strength of its overall design. An “acceptance test” (APT), which checks for problems with individual components before to flight, was being performed on the engine that failed on June 30. (There are other steps in this process as well, such as testing fully integrated engines under “hot fire” on the launch pad.)

“ATP failures happen frequently. Because of this, we perform them on each and every serial number that leaves the production line’, Bruno added in a second tweet on Tuesday.

On Vulcan Centaur, ULA has been coping with problems of its own. Early May was the planned launch date for the heavy lifter, which will be used to launch the private Peregrine lander towards the moon. However, a Centaur upper stage explosion on March 29 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre delayed that target date.

Destroy the initial Vulcan Centaur

When the new rocket will launch is currently unknown. The business announced late last month that it would destroy the initial Vulcan Centaur and ship the upper stage back to its Alabama manufacturer for adjustments.

Soon, we ought to learn more: On Thursday, July 13, Bruno is supposed to discuss Vulcan Centaur with the media.

The BE-4 has yet to launch New Glenn, the other substantial rocket that it will power. The BE-4 was initially expected to make its debut in 2020, but development delays have frequently moved that date to the right. As Sheetz pointed out, Blue Origin recently rejected offering a new goal date.

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