ULA Vulcan Centaur: Blue Origin’s BE-4 engines won’t arrive until 2022

We recently wrote about production issues with SpaceX’s Raptor engines used on Starship. But it is not the only company to have encountered problems related to the engine of its rockets: another example is ULA (United Launch Alliance) with me BE-4 Engines of Blue Origin which will be used on the launcher Vulcan Centaur.

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This is not the first time that this subject has been discussed given the significant delays by Jeff Bezos’ company in the delivery of these engines (which will also be used on the New Glenn rocket). At the end of June an exchange three Elon Musk And Curator Bruno took the problem further. This was later addressed in a series of leaks aimed at clarifying the reasons for the delays.

Vulcan Centaur rocket engines will arrive in 2022

After the summer rumors, it seemed that the test engines of the new rocket from ULA could arrive by the end of the year. Now this possibility can be ruled out. Curator Bruno (CEO of ULA) he officially declared that the first units of the BE-4 Engines they will be available in early 2022. However, there is no specific timeline.

Currently blue origin it would complete the final tests of the new engines, thus also postponing the maiden flight of the new Vulcan Centaur. This rocket will be critical to ULA’s economy and will also allow Blue Origin to forego new funds to develop its projects such as New Glenn, New Shepard, Lunar Lander and Orbital Reef.


Curator Bruno in the interview he added that “I was hoping to get these motors for Christmas. I had giant stockings at home waiting for them. […] I will say that they take a little longer to manufacture than my production engines. I’m at the factory under construction of the Blue Origin”. Again the CEO of ULA also added that the main problem seems to be related to the pandemic which has stopped or slowed down supplies. However, the tests are progressing very well, giving hope for a launch of Vulcan Centaur Next year.

If there are no other problems, in 2022 there could be two missions for the new carrier. If both launches succeed, Vulcan Centaur can be certified by National Security Space Launch. According to ULA, this is expected to take place in 2023. This is a particularly important issue because Atlas V (another ULA carrier) uses RD-180 engines which are made in Russia and therefore subject to restrictions.

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