WASHINGTON – Blue Origin has performed the first hotfire test of the engine it plans to use on its Blue Moon Lunar Lander.
The company's founder Jeff Bezos tweeted on June 19 that the test of the BE-7 engine took place earlier that day at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. The 35-second test went as expected, he said. "Data looks good and hardware is in perfect condition," he wrote in the post, which included a video of the test.
First hotfire of our # BE7 moonland engine just yesterday at Marshall Space Flight Center. Data looks good and hardware is in perfect condition. The test lasted in full planned duration ̵1; 35 seconds. Kudos to the whole @BlueOrigin hold and grateful for @NASA_Marshall for all help! pic.twitter.com/cTjjrngumY
– Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) June 20, 2019
The company announced the BE-7 engine in a May 9 event here where Bezos revealed the updated design of the firm's Blue Moon lander. This lander will be able to transport 3.6 tons of cargo to the moon's surface, with a "stretch tank" version that increases this capacity to 6.5 tons. The larger version of the farmer could also carry a rise step to enable crew missions to the moon's surface.
Blue Moon will be powered by a single BE-7 engine that can produce 10,000 pounds of power and deep gas bar. The engine uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen powered propellants that make use of the company's experience on the larger BE-3 engine used on its New Shepard suborbital vehicle and top phase of its New Glenn orbital rocket.
In the May event, Bezos said the company selected liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for BE-7 because of their high performance. In addition, it allows the farmer to utilize in situ resources on the moon in the form of water ice that can be converted to hydrogen and oxygen. "In the end, we will be able to get hydrogen from that water on the moon and be able to revive these vehicles on the moon's surface," he said.
"We've been working on this for three years," he said at the event. "We are going to have to heat it for the first time this summer. The only reason we can do it is that we have been working on it for three years."
Bezos tweeted about the test shortly after he appeared in a "Space" Summit "19. June held at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. The interview on stage by Caroline Kennedy, Bezos did not mention the test, but discussed briefly the lander, including the decision to use liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. "One day we will think of the vehicle on the surface of the moon from propellants made on the moon from the water ice," he said.
"Okay," answered Kennedy after a break.
Bezos used that look to criticize the government's role in space. He said that on the one hand, the government needs to allow human return to the moon, with partners like Blue Origin. "It will be difficult to put people on the moon without state aid," he said. "It's expensive, we need public facilities to do what we need to do the government's know-how."
"It must be a team effort," he continued. "There will be many companies, not just Blue Origin. It will be collaboration."
Blue Origin is already working with NASA on the agency's plans to return people to the surface of the moon. The company was one of 11 that received contracts from NASA on May 16 for surveys and initial prototype development of monthly landing stages and transfer vehicles. The company is expected to participate in a separate call for proposals later this year for work on integrated landing systems.
However, Bezos was also critical of how the space program programs have historically been run. "Many of the major government programs are being highly protected by members of Congress," he said. "Great NASA programs are considered job programs, and they need to be distributed to the right states where the real senators live, etc."
This approach said he will "change the target" with such programs. "Now your goal is not to get a man to the moon or a woman to the moon, but instead to get a woman to the moon while maintaining X number of jobs in my district. It's a" complexes "and not a healthy one."
"If I were a senior official at NASA, I would be very frustrated from time to time," he said. Among those who participated in the event were former NASA administrator Charles Bolden, who appeared on a panel earlier in the day. "Charlie, don't say a word," Bezos said. "But he smiles, let the plate reflect."