Alan Boyle, for GeekWire, with a handful of BE-4 updates, including some behind-the-scenes insight on ULA’s decision:
Now Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith says the BE-4 has passed all of the technical tests required for ULA to sign onto a production contract.
“We’ve met the technical and performance requirements that they’re looking for,” Smith told GeekWire today during a one-on-one interview at the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. “And so we’re just working through how do we actually get to a production deal. We’re working through terms and conditions, termination liability, all of the things you’d want within a contractual structure.”
Smith said there’s been good interaction with ULA on the technical side of the BE-4 test-firing process. “At this point, we think it’s just, how do we get to the commercial production deal?” he said.
That sounds promising.
And some insight on last year’s testing issue:
The road hasn’t always been smooth: Last May, Bezos reported that an engine powerpack was lost during a round of testing at Blue Origin’s West Texas facility.
Smith said Blue Origin learned lessons from that setback. “We incorporated a lot of changes associated with how do we deal with foreign object debris,” Smith said.
We hadn’t heard any details whatsoever about that issue before this—and it’s still not clear exactly what happened—but the mention of foreign object debris is worth noting.
All in all, it sounds like BE-4 is in a good spot, and multiple reports say that it should be formally qualified by the end of the year.