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Blue Origin’s rocket engine wins ULA’s backing

Blue Origin BE-4 engine
Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine is on display in Colorado Springs in April. (Blue Origin Photo)

After years of development and months of suspense, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture has won a high-stakes race to provide United Launch Alliance with its BE-4 rocket engine.

First word of the win came unofficially in a Wall Street Journal report, and was confirmed hours later by United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed joint venture. United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno confirmed that BE-4 engines would be used on the first stage of ULA’s yet-to-be-built Vulcan rocket.

“We are pleased to enter into this partnership with Blue Origin and look forward to a successful first flight of our next-generation launch vehicle,” Bruno said in a news release.

Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said he was “very glad” to see the BE-4 engine selected as the Vulcan rocket’s prime propulsion system.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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