The ground is broken and the building begins for a Huntsville facility expected to help launch the country into the next generation of space travel.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s company Blue Origin will build what was called Friday the most powerful engine in the world. Industry leaders say the engines built at Cummings Research Park will end the country’s reliance on Russian engines for launching satellites.
Blue Origin leaders say the BE-4 will be the most powerful rocket engine fueled by liquefied natural gas ever developed.
“We will be powering, from engines produced at this facility, two out of the three major launch systems that are gonna be generated for the next decade of flying into space,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin. “That’s an exciting place for us to be.”
Two of the BE-4 engines will go on United Launch Alliance‘s Vulcan rocket. The CEO of ULA says the Vulcan’s mission will play a role in the safety of the world.
“It will be the culmination of all of our know-how and it will also be the only rocket specifically, uniquely designed for the national security space mission. The mission is absolutely vital to the security of our great nation,” said CEO Tory Bruno.
The BE-4 will be powered by liquid oxygen along with the liquefied natural gas, which Bruno claims is cheap and plentiful in the U.S.
“Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, they represent what we’re all about in Alabama,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “That’s growing opportunities for our people, being innovative, and finding success when we work together. Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance rockets will not only be made in the USA; they’ll be made in Alabama!”
The facility will have close to 350 employees and cost $200 million to build. Construction is expected to be complete by March of next year and the first flight test for the BE-4 engine will be in 2021.
On Wednesday Blue Origin launched a rocket in West Texas for a NASA experiment.