Rocket engines designed for reuse

Blue Origin’s engines are designed, developed and manufactured
at our headquarters in the United States.

BE-3

High-performance hydrogen engine designed for booster, upper stage and in-space applications.

Explore BE-3

BE-4

The first ox-rich staged combustion engine made in the U.S. will power the next generation of orbital American rockets.

Explore BE-4

The BE-3: Making History

The BE-3 is the first new liquid hydrogen-fueled rocket engine to be developed for production in America in over a decade.

BE-3 Engine

BE-3 Engine

The BE-3 is the first new liquid hydrogen-fueled rocket engine to be developed for production in America in over a decade. It’s been designed to withstand the extremely low temperatures of liquid hydrogen at -423°F and combustion temperatures nearing 6,000°F.

Power and maneuverability
At full throttle during launch, the BE-3 provides 110,000 lbs. of thrust (over a million horsepower). When returning to Earth, it can throttle down to 20,000 lbs. – a uniquely low throttle that enables a precise vertical landing, within mere feet of its target.

An elegant tap-off cycle design
The BE-3 is the first tap-off engine to fly. We’ve designed a simple rocket engine, where hot gasses from combustion are tapped from the main combustion chambers and fed back to spin the turbopumps in flight. Having only one combustion chamber with a single ignition event enhances reliability.

Custom-made cryogenic turbopumps
We’re one of the few U.S. companies that designs and produces our own cryogenic turbopumps. The BE-3 engine uses a dual turbopump design that produces enough pressure to support a column of water over half a mile high.

Efficient, sustainable fuel
Just like the Space Shuttle’s main engines, the BE-3 uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as propellants. This combination is highly efficient and clean, producing water as the byproduct of combustion without any carbon emissions.

BE-3U variant
The BE-3 will be upgraded with a larger nozzle to operate in the vacuum of orbital space, becoming our BE-3U. One BE-3U will power the third stage of our New Glenn launch vehicle. With extensive testing and use on New Shepard and the BE-3, the BE-3U will be one of the best understood rocket engines before it ever launches into space.

BE-4: America’s Next Rocket Engine

Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine is the fastest way to end American dependence on the Russian-made RD-180 engine.

BE-4 Engine

BE-4 Engine

The BE-4 is our fourth-generation liquid rocket engine, made to take us into orbital space and beyond. Using the latest design and manufacturing techniques, it’s made for both commercial and government missions.

The BE-4 uses oxygen-rich staged combustion of liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas to produce 550,000 lbs. of thrust. Liquefied natural gas is commercially available, affordable, and highly efficient for spaceflight. Unlike other rocket fuels, such as kerosene, liquefied natural gas can be used to pressurize a rocket’s propellant tanks. This is called autogenous pressurization and eliminates the need for costly and complex pressurization systems, like helium. Liquefied natural gas also leaves no soot byproducts as kerosene does, simplifying engine reuse.

The BE-4 is currently under development and will fly on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket in 2019.

Also in development is the BE-4U – the upper stage variant of the BE-4 engine. Optimized for space with a larger nozzle, one of these engines will drive New Glenn’s second stage. It will have the ability to restart multiple times, placing payloads in their desired orbits.

lowest cost

Blue Origin’s BE-4 requires NO taxpayer dollars.

Fully funded
The BE-4 is fully paid for by the private sector, requiring no government funding for development. United Launch Alliance (ULA) – maker of the Atlas V and Delta IV launch systems – has chosen the BE-4 to power its next generation Vulcan launch vehicle. With an uninterrupted record of more than 110 successful launches, ULA is America’s most dependable launch provider. Together, Blue Origin and ULA are funding 100% of the development of this new high-thrust American engine.

Save taxpayer money
The BE-4 saves taxpayers an additional $3 billion in national security launch costs over 20 years by providing higher thrust – 1.1 million lbs. versus 860,000 lbs. for the RD-180 – which enables a greater payload capability and allows for the removal of a solid rocket motor at more than $10 million per flight for comparable missions.

lowest risk

Blue Origin has comprehensive recent experience developing booster engines and is implementing a low-risk development approach for the BE-4 engine.

No drop-in replacement
Development of a true drop-in replacement for the RD-180 would pose severe technical challenges. The RD-180 operates at the utmost edge of high performance, with an extremely high chamber pressure of 3,700 psi and turbopump outlet pressures of more than 8,000 psi. An engine with lower performance than the RD-180 would require significant changes to the launch vehicle to meet the required payload capability.

Lowest development risk
The BE-4 was designed from the beginning to be a moderate performing variant of the high performance oxygen-rich staged combustion cycle architecture – a conscious design choice to lower development risk while meeting performance and schedule requirements. Two BE-4 engines provide a combined total of 1.1 million lbs. of thrust, which provides a greater payload capability relative to the RD-180.

Multiple customers
The BE-4 will fly on ULA’s Vulcan launch vehicle and the Blue Origin New Glenn family of launch vehicles. The first stage will use seven BE-4 engines, and the second stage will use a single BE-4 upper stage engine (BE-4U). With multiple launch customers, the BE-4’s costs are driven down, reliability is driven up, and long-term existence is ensured.

Our Approach To Engines

Blue Origin’s engines are designed, developed and manufactured in the United States. They provide great control with a precisely timed start, high-power thrust for launch, deep throttling for landing, and stop and restart capabilities. Since our first, simple, single-propellant engine – the BE-1 – we’ve built and tested multiple generations for suborbital and orbital spaceflight.

Engine Propellant Thrust at sea level
BE-1 peroxide 2,200 lbs.
BE-2 kerosene + peroxide 31,000 lbs.
BE-3 liquid hydrogen + liquid oxygen 110,000 lbs.
BE-4 liquefied natural gas + liquid oxygen 550,000 lbs.

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