Air Force and Blue Origin team up on test site

AFRL altitude facility
The Air Force Research Laboratory’s altitude facility at Edwards Air Force Base conducts research on next-generation rocket components, propellant formulations and subsystems; and high-vacuum research on satellite components. Research testing includes solid rocket motor testing at simulated altitudes up to 120,000 feet. (AFRL Photo)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture is partnering with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop a new test facility at California’s Edwards Air Force Base for Blue Origin’s BE-7 rocket engine.

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Blue Origin pushes ahead with moon lander engine

BE-7 engine test
Blue Origin’s BE-7 rocket engine executes a test firing in June. The green flame is produced by the engine’s ignition system. (Blue Origin Photo)

RENTON, Wash. — Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture says it has test-fired its BE-7 rocket engine for the total six-minute duration it would need for a landing on the moon.

Patrick Zeitouni, Blue Origin’s head of advanced development programs, said the milestone for cumulative firing time was reached during a test conducted just a few days ago at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama — part of a series of tests that began a month ago.

“We’re very excited,” Zeitouni said here at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace conference. “That means we’re getting a whole lot closer to getting that engine fielded,” he said. “And as you guys know, propulsion, rocket engines are extremely important. They’re the long pole in the tent when you’re trying to develop a new system and bring it online.”

A single hydrogen-fueled BE-7 engine would power Blue Origin’s Blue Moon landerfor payload deliveries to the lunar surface, packing up to 10,000 pounds of thrust.

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