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ULA Selects Blue Origin For New Rocket's Engines

Rendering of ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket system. Photo: ULA

Private aerospace company United Launch Alliance will buy engines produced by Blue Origin for its next-generation rocket.

Blue Origin’s BE-4 engines will power the first stage of ULA’s new rocket called Vulcan Centaur. Two engines, fueled with liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen, will provide more than half a million pounds of thrust.

“We are very glad to have our BE-4 engine selected by United Launch Alliance. United Launch Alliance is the premier launch service provider for national security missions, and we’re thrilled to be part of their team and that mission,” said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith.

Blue Origin beat out competitor and rocket engine veteran company Aerojet Rocketdyne for the main engine on the booster. Aerojet Rocketdyne, along with Northrop Grumman, RUAG and  L-3 Avionics Systems, will supply additional parts for the Vulcan Centaur rocket system.

“Vulcan Centaur will revolutionize spaceflight and provide affordable, reliable access to space for our current and future customers,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “We are well on our way to the introduction of Vulcan Centaur – the future of U.S. rocket manufacturing."

ULA will launch the Vulcan rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California after an initial test flight in 2020.

Blue Origin developed the BE-4 engine for its own rocket, the New Glenn, which will be built and launched from Florida’s space coast.

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to Central Florida in 2005 to attend the University of Central Florida. He began working at WMFE as a college intern where he discovered his love for public radio.