Amazon's Jeff Bezos will now compete with Elon Musk with its space venture

The first Blue Origin launch is slated for the year 2020.


Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos doesn't seem to plan on stopping. Bezos' Blue Origin rocket company has just bagged a major contract. The company's BE-4 engine will go head-to-head with Elon Musk's SpaceX with its pricing and will power United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur suite of rockets. The first launch is slated for the year 2020.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos to compete with Elon Musk with its space venture


"We are very glad to have our BE-4 engine selected by United Launch Alliance. United Launch Alliance is the premier launch service provider for national security missions, and we're thrilled to be part of their team and that mission," Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in a statement announcing the award on Thursday.

Bezos, who claims to fund his rocket company by selling about $1 billion worth of his own stake in Amazon every year, faced competition from Aeroject Rocketdyne, which provides propulsion technology for NASA as well as existing ULA rockets.

"ULA has chosen the best systems available to create the Vulcan Centaur," ULA CEO Tory Bruno said in a statement.

Blue Origin winning the contract doesn't come as a surprise, as the BE-4 developed for the Aerojet engine, dubbed the AR1, is believed to come at a less expensive price. The company was founded in 2000 and has only been able to launch test flights of its suborbital New Shepard rocket since.

The development of the BE-4 started in 2011 and was meant for more powerful launch vehicles. The BE-4 completed its first test fire last year. Blue Origin bagging the contract also makes it a "major defeat" for Aerojet because this will leave the company out of business for developing main engines for launch vehicles.

Elon Musk's SpaceX makes engines in-house for its Falcon rockets, and it's likely that Northrop Grumman will do the same for its OmegA rocket. However, Aerojet still has a lot of business when it comes to building smaller engines, including the one that will power the Vulcan's upper stage.

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