Blue Origin Demonstrates Engine Thrust Chamber

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Blue Origin, the reusable rocket startup created and bankrolled by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, successfully fired the thrust chamber of a hydrogen-fueled engine being developed with help from a funded Commercial Space Act Agreement with NASA, the space agency announced Oct. 15.

The test of the thrust-chamber assembly for Blue Origin’s BE-3 100,000-pound-thrust engine took place in early October on a test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, Miss., the agency said. The thrust chamber was powered to its full level during the test, NASA said.

Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., was one of four companies that won Space Act Agreement funding in August 2011 under the second round of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which aims to nurture development of privately operated vehicles capable of transporting astronauts to and from the international space station. The company was awarded $22 million for engine testing and design work on a crew escape system.

In its Oct. 15 press release, NASA said Blue Origin also completed a system requirements review of its spacecraft. During that review, experts from NASA and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration evaluated the vehicle’s compliance with government safety and mission assurance requirements, the press release said.

“Blue Origin continues to be extremely innovative as it develops a crew-capable vehicle for suborbital and orbital flights,” Ed Mango, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, said in a prepared statement. “We’re thrilled the company’s engine test fire was met with success.”

Blue Origin, which is targeting the space tourism market, was not among the three companies selected in August for the final round of development funding under the Commercial Crew Program.