ULA vs Jeff Bezos: Blue Origin’s BE-4 Engines JUST like a JOKE!!! #STARSHIPFANS
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Increasingly, the ULA-Blue Origin marriage is an unhappy one
Bezos made his fortune at Amazon through competitive pricing and timely delivery of goods to his customers worldwide. But so far at least, his Blue Origin space company has been a less reliable vendor.
This has been especially of concern to United Launch Alliance, which is relying on Blue Origin-built engines for its new Vulcan rocket. Blue Origin’s powerful BE-4 rocket engine, which burns methane and liquid oxygen, is years late.
The relationship between Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance is not good. “There is great concern about this engine development,” one person in the industry said. “It’s much more than Tory Bruno is showing publicly. There is great concern that Blue is not putting enough attention and priority on the engine.”
For years, United Launch Alliance chief executive Tory Bruno had been saying the new Vulcan rocket, powered by two BE-4 engines, would launch in 2021. However, he recently told Aviation Week the first launch would slip into 2022. Bruno said this was due primarily to the mission’s customer, Astrobotic, whose Moon lander was not ready. Technically, Bruno said, Vulcan still had a chance to be ready for a 2021 launch.
This seems highly unlikely because it is already September, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) still does not have a pair of flight engines.
After receiving the flight engines from Blue Origin, ULA needs to attach them to the Vulcan rocket, roll it to the launch pad, and conduct a lengthy series of tests before a hot-fire ignition. After this hot-fire test, the rocket will be rolled back to the hangar and prepared for an actual launch attempt. As of January, Bruno was saying this hot fire test with the flight engines would take place this summer. That will no longer happen.
What is the Source of Blue Origin delays?
There appear to have been myriad factors, some of which can be traced to an at-times distracted founder Jeff Bezos, and some to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we talked in the last episode, Elon Musk said Jeff Bezos has taken on suing SpaceX as his “full-time job.” He seemed to spend his time on meaningless work for his employees instead of focusing on operating his company. Last month, Top talents departed Blue Origin as the NASA lander fight escalated.
In addition, there has been a lot of turnover in the leadership of Blue Origin’s propulsion program, with Bill Kruse and Mike Krene leaving the company in 2018, and Kruse’s replacement, Dannette Smith, only lasting about a year before leaving in August 2019. That proves part of the error in Jeff’s management.
ULA vs Jeff Bezos: Blue Origin’s BE-4 Engines JUST like a JOKE!!!
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