BE-4 Test, Decision on Vulcan Could Slip to 2017

Couple of interesting bits in this piece by Jeff Foust for SpaceNews:

β€œIt’s really tied not so much to the calendar but to a technical event,” Bruno said of the schedule for an engine decision. β€œWe want to have a full-scale static firing of the BE-4, so that we understand that it’s going to hit its performance and it’s going to be stable.”

β€œThat may occur by the end of the year, but I could see it moving into the spring a little bit, to make sure we have enough test data and we feel confident about where we’re at,” he added.

By the sounds of it, Blue Origin is late on something, and it may be pushing their engine test back a bit. I imagine that Aerojet Rocketdyne and the Congress members that are to thank for the AR1 are a little bit excited.

Towards the end of the article, about ULA and the commercial launch market:

Bruno said there is room for more commercial launches in the near future. β€œI think there was a perception in the commercial marketplace that ULA was really focused on NASA and the Air Force and there was not availability in our manifest,” he said. β€œI have slots reserved and available for people next year and the year after.”

This might be the first sign of that drop in government and military launches that Bruno has talked about repeatedly. I have a hard time believing they so nicely reserved an Atlas or Delta for commercial partners—if the government was going to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a launch, ULA would take it in a heartbeat (and rightly so).