Today at Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, local, state and federal representatives joined Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith in a formal groundbreaking ceremony at the future home of their new engine plant. Last September, United Launch Alliance formally selected Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine to power the new Vulcan rocket currently under development. Each Vulcan first stage will be powered by two BE-4 engines that will be integrated into the rocket just down the road at ULA’s plant in Decatur. Blue Origin also announced they will also produce the BE-3 hybrid engine powered by liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen. The BE-3 is already in use on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket program and the BE-4 engines will be used on their next rocket program called New Glenn. The New Glenn rocket will use seven BE-4’s with a combined thrust of nearly 4 million pounds of thrust.
Blue Origin CEO Bill Smith also announced that they are in the final stages of reaching an agreement with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to once again bring the historic Test Stand 4670 at MSFC back to life. The test stand was built for testing the first stage engines of the Saturn V and later used to test Space Shuttle engines. Blue Origin will refurbish and modernize the historic test stand and once again bring the sounds of space exploration back to Huntsville.
The $200 million dollar Blue Origin plant is slated to open in March 2020 and expected to bring more than 300 jobs to the area.