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Bezos’ Blue Origin Rocket Engine Explodes During Testing

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space tourism company Blue Origin jogs onto the Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket landing pad to pose for photos at the spaceport near Van Horn, Texas, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. InternationalIndiaAfricaMary ManleyThe New Glenn rocket is a heavy-lift vehicle “capable of carrying people and payloads routinely to Earth orbit” that is currently being developed by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. The BE-4 engine is expected to power the rocket, as well as that of the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur.Newly surfaced details have revealed that a rocket engine intended for use by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin project exploded during a test late last month at a West Texas base.Insider reports indicate the engine, known as the BE-4 and meant to power Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, exploded about 10 seconds into its test on June 30. Individuals who reviewed footage of the setback reportedly described the incident as a “dramatic explosion” that also prompted “heavy” damages to infrastructure at the testing facility.A statement issued by Blue Origin explained that no injuries were sustained as a result of the explosion, and that officials are looking into remedying the suspected cause to the blast. However, officials did not publicly disclose what caused the incident.“We will be able to meet our engine delivery commitments this year and stay ahead of our customer’s launch needs,” Blue Origin said.

The BE-4 engine was supposed to finish testing in July, and was scheduled to ship to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) for use on the company's second Vulcan rocket launch.

Vulcan rockets need at least two BE-4 engines to run, while the New Glenn will need seven.

The Vulcan rocket, meanwhile, has been dealing with its own testing issues after it was supposed to debut in early May, but had its target date pushed back after its upper stage exploded during testing in late March.Blue Origin Aborts Uncrewed Launch After Mid-Flight Anomaly, Capsule Escapes12 September 2022, 15:22 GMTTory Bruno, president and CEO of ULA, appeared unbothered by the BE-4’s explosion, detailing that the engine was undergoing an “acceptance test” (APT) at the time of the setback. The APT is a routine assessment that looks for issues with units before a flight.

"ATP failures are not uncommon. That's why we do them on every single serial number that comes off the line," Bruno said in another tweet.

An investigation into the BE-4 explosion remains ongoing.

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