Main Engine Cut Off

ULA Could Formally Select BE-4 Within Three Months

Jeff Foust, for SpaceNews:

Bruno said he was encouraged by tests of some key engine components, including the preburner, a smaller version of the main engine that powers the engine’s turbomachinery. “The good news is the preburner is running like a top,” he said. “We’re starting to get more and more confidence that we’re going to have a good experience when we run a full-scale engine.”

If the tests all go as planned, Bruno said ULA could be ready to formally select the BE-4 in as soon as 60 to 90 days. “But it could take longer,” he added. “It’s not on the calendar.”

Some interesting comments from Rob Meyerson, president of Blue Origin, too:

“We wanted to go into the test program hardware-rich,” he said. With those engines and other equipment at the test site, “we can move through the test program quite rapidly.” He said that testing would continue after ULA made its decision, with final certification of the BE-4 planned for late 2018 or early 2019.

Foust also talks at length about the independent non-advocate review teams established—one by ULA, one by Congress—to help make the decision. Worth a read.