June 26, 2017 – Blue Origin announced plans to manufacture its BE-4 engine in a state-of-the art production facility to be built in Huntsville, Alabama — the Rocket City.
The new facility will be in Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second-largest research park, and construction can begin once an engine production contract with United Launch Alliance is awarded. The BE-4 is America’s next rocket engine and will power United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, once down-selected. The production of this engine would end the nation’s dependence on Russia for access to space for critical national security space systems.
Two BE-4s would be used on the Vulcan booster rocket. The BE-4 will also power Blue Origin’s New Glenn reusable launch system with seven BE-4s on the reusable first stage and a vacuum-optimized BE-4U on New Glenn’s second stage. Blue Origin awaits the final public approval processes of the local package by the City and County governments during their respective July meetings.
Using the latest design and manufacturing techniques, the BE-4 is made for both commercial and government missions. The BE-4 uses oxygen-rich staged combustion of liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas to produce 550,000 lb. of thrust. Development of the BE-4 began in 2011. Testing of the BE-4 is currently underway.
“Alabama is a great state for aerospace manufacturing and we are proud to produce America’s next rocket engine right here in Rocket City,” said Robert Meyerson, President of Blue Origin. “The area’s skilled workforce and leading role in rocket propulsion development make Huntsville the ideal location for our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.”
Blue Origin will employ up to 342 people in this new facility. The company will make approximately $200 million in capital investment in the state.
The announcement took place at the historic Davidson Center for Space Exploration under the Saturn V rocket, a nod to the community’s aerospace heritage. Blue Origin builds on that aerospace heritage.