Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture confirmed that one of its BE-4 rocket engines suffered a significant anomaly during testing at its West Texas facility in late June.
The incident first came to light today in a report from CNBC, which quoted unnamed sources as saying that the engine detonated about 10 seconds into a test firing on June 30. CNBC said the engine was meant to be used for the second launch of United Launch Alliance’s next-generation Vulcan rocket. That launch, known as Cert-2, is meant to send Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser space plane on an uncrewed cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station.
Blue Origin already has delivered two BE-4 engines to ULA for the first Vulcan launch, Cert-1, which is tasked with deploying the first two prototype satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband network into low Earth orbit as well as sending Astrobotic’s robotic lunar lander on its way to the moon.
CNBC quoted a ULA spokesperson as saying that the newly reported anomaly was “not expected to impact our plans” for Cert-1. The BE-4 engines for Cert-1 were cleared for use after acceptance testing and a flight readiness firing test.
The cause of last month’s anomaly is under investigation, Blue Origin said today in an emailed statement.