Sep 27 2018

Shelby: ULA Selects Blue Origin BE-4 Rocket Engine, New Huntsville Facility

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, released the following statement on United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) decision to select Blue Origin’s Advanced Booster Engine (BE-4) – which will be manufactured in a new facility in Huntsville – for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur Rocket System: 

“Blue Origin and ULA will now be building rockets together as part of a new partnership – which will create hundreds of jobs and bring an investment of $200 million to our state.   This is outstanding news.  With Blue Origin’s first stage engine work in Huntsville, along with ULA’s manufacturing, assembly, and integration in Decatur, most of the Vulcan rocket will be made in Alabama.  It is long past time that we build an exclusively American-made rocket, providing our nation with assured access to space.

“This is a true testament to North Alabama’s world-class workforce and long history of supporting our nation’s space and defense.  I am proud to represent a region that continues to attract such powerful companies.  I welcome Blue Origin to Alabama and look forward to the groundbreaking of its new facility in Cummings Research Park.”

In June 2017, Blue Origin announced that – if selected – the company would build a 400,000-square foot facility on 40 acres in Cummings Research Park West to manufacture the BE-4 engine, ending the nation's dependence on the Russian engine.  The facility is estimated to manufacture up to 30 engines per year for both Decatur’s ULA plant and Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket.  The company has noted that it will employ up to 350 workers with an average salary of $75,000 a year.  Blue Origin is a privately funded American aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company, founded by Jeff Bezos and headquartered in Kent, Washington.

Following completion of a competitive procurement, ULA today announced its selection of Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine for Vulcan Centaur’s booster stage.  The liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled booster will be powered by a pair of BE-4 engines, each producing 550,000 pounds of sea level thrust.  As previously announced, ULA has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 engine for the Centaur upper stage, Northrop Grumman solid rocket boosters, L 3 Avionics Systems avionics, and RUAG’s payload fairings and composite structures for the new Vulcan Centaur rocket system.

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is notably the most experienced and reliable launch service provider.  ULA has successfully delivered 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.