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4/19/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

Blue Origin to utilize historic NASA test stand for rocket engine testing

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Under a Commercial Space Launch Act agreement, Blue Origin will upgrade and refurbish Test Stand 4670, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to support BE-3U and BE-4 rocket engine testing.

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NASA (Washington,  D.C., U.S.) and Blue Origin (Kent, Wash., U.S.) have announced the signing of an agreement that grants Blue Origin use of a historic test stand. Under a Commercial Space Launch Act agreement, Blue Origin will upgrade and refurbish Test Stand 4670, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, Ala., U.S.), to support testing of the company’s BE-3U and BE-4 rocket engines. The BE-4 engine was selected to power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket and Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch vehicle — both being developed to serve the expanding civil, commercial and national security space markets.

“This test stand once helped power NASA’s first launches to the Moon, which eventually led to the emergence of an entirely new economic sector — commercial space,” says NASA deputy administrator Jim Morhard. “Now, it will have a role in our ongoing commitment to facilitate growth in this sector.” 

Constructed in 1965, Test Stand 4670 served as the backbone for Saturn V propulsion testing for the Apollo program, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Later, it was modified to support testing of the space shuttle external tank and main engine systems. The facility has been inactive since 1998. 

“We’re excited to welcome Blue Origin to our growing universe of commercial partners,” says Marshall Center director Jody Singer. “This agreement ensures the test stand will be used for the purpose it was built.”

“I am thrilled about this partnership with NASA to acceptance test both BE-4 and BE-3U engines at Test Stand 4670,” says Bob Smith, chief executive officer of Blue Origin. “Through this agreement, we’ll provide for the refurbishment, restoration and modernization of this piece of American history – and bring the sounds of rocket engines firing back to Huntsville.”

Under the agreement, Blue Origin will pay for the investments it makes to prepare the test stand for use, as well as any direct costs NASA incurs as a result of Blue Origin use of the stand.

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