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Blue Origin and ULA partner on new engine
Posted: Thu, Sep 18, 2014, 8:35 AM ET (1235 GMT)
Blue Origin BE-4 engine (ULA) Blue Origin will develop a new hydrocarbon engine for United Launch Alliance that could serve as a replacement for the Russian-manufactured RD-180, the companies announced Wednesday. The companies will jointly fund development of the BE-4, a liquid oxygen/methane engine that produces 2.45 million newtons (550,000 lbf.) of thrust. The engine, which is already under development by Blue Origin, would be ready for full-scale tests in 2016 and first flight in 2019. Two BE-4 engines could replace the RD-180 engine currently used in the first stage of the Atlas 5 rocket, although the companies were vague about how the the engine would be used. The announcement comes after concerns that the supply of RD-180 engines could be cut off because of current tensions with Russia. Congress has proposed funding development of a domestic engine to replace the RD-180, but that could be rendered moot by the ULA-Blue Origin announcement.
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