Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has unveiled the rocket engine that will power his space company's giant spacecraft to take people and satellites into orbit.
"I like to do things incrementally", Bezos remarked during Tuesday's Satellite 2017 Conference in Washington, The New York Times reports.
"Blue Origin has been forthcoming with Eutelsat on its strategy and convinced us they have the right mindset to compete in the launch service industry", he said in the news release. It's also planning a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing complex on Florida's Space Coast - not far from where Blue Origin is building a 750,000-square-foot factory for New Glenn rockets.
Testing on the BE-4 will begin soon, and the engine should be ready for flight by 2019, Blue Origin representatives have said. Jeffrey Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the space company Blue Origin are aiming for such a "difficult and worthy objective". Blue Origin did not respond to a request for comment.
NASA has declared that it would be trying for a sustained human presence in space. NASA and Blue Origin have both expressed an interest in using their latest rockets for lunar exploration, with the former optimistic it can arrange a Mars mission as well. "When we do achieve that goal, we will reach a new equilibrium in this industry".
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BE-4 is likely to head to the test site in West Texas where Blue Origin has their test stands.
Meant to simulate the path of an actual mission, the animation showed the New Glenn, powered by seven of the company's BE-4 engines, launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida and separate, with the first stage heading back to Earth while the second stage carries a satellite into orbit.
The deal between Eutelsat and Blue Origin calls for a launch of a geostationary satellite sometime in 2021 or 2022.
The BE-4 and AR1 will employ a staged combustion cycle, a more efficient engine cycle than now available on other USA liquid hydrocarbon rocket engines. The advantage is that it cuts the cost of space travel. The BE-4 engines will ultimately be bought off by ULA. It can carry around 54 metric tons to orbit. Bezos has even reserved a parking spot near the Shackleton Crater on the South Pole, which has constant sunlight and hydrogen supply for the rocket fuel. In searching for a launch provider, Belmer said his priorities are working with a company that is flexible, reliable and willing to foster a "partnership spirit". The New Glenn launcher will be compatible with virtually all Eutelsat satellites, giving flexibility to allocate the mission 12 months ahead of launch.