Jeff Bezos’s rocket engine is almost ready for takeoff—a good sign that the U.S. can stop relying on Russia.
- Entrepreneur Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin has been working on a rocket engine for several years, and the engine is almost ready to start taking flight.
- After several years of delays the Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine is looking at a December test launch.
- This American-made engine could finally allow the U.S. to no longer rely on Russia to supply rocket engines, which the U.S. has been trying to break free from for years.
Why it’s important
The U.S. has been dependent on Russia to supply the RD-180 engine for years, but the U.S. Congress demanded a replacement for the Russian engines after the country annexed Crimea in 2014, and that argument has only gained force since President Vladimir Putin’s military invaded Ukraine in February, according to Bloomberg.
Blue Origin originally predicted in 2014 that it could have the engines ready for takeoff by 2017, but it has been faced with many technical challenges and hasn’t been deemed ready yet.
Now, the US Space Force is optimistic, saying in a statement that “Vulcan launch system development activities continue to make progress” toward a first test launch by December because “ULA and Blue Origin have completed originally planned BE-4 development testing, and have successfully demonstrated full engine performance.” according to Bloomberg.
Although the Space Force is positive, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for space systems Frank Calvelli said that United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin “have done a lot to reduce risk, but a lot of work and testing remains to meet this December’s launch.”
Fellow space enthusiast Elon Musk is also trying to make his way into the world of rockets.
Musk’s company SpaceX has received certifications for its Falcon Heavy rocket to launch classified missions between October and December using reusable boosters and so far has endured some successful launches.