An image of the BE-4 test firing shows its power.

Billionaires Bezos, Musk Race to Get Rockets into Space First

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos poured $1 billion into his pet Blue Origin rocket program recently, a financial commitment to the BE-4 rocket engine operation crucial to his space ambitions.

The rocket engine, which runs on liquefied natural gas and packs 550,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff, is destined for use on Blue Origin’s orbital-class New Glenn rocket. It’s also supposed to power United Launch Alliance’s next-generation, semi-reusable Vulcan rocket, according to a story on

Both those rockets are scheduled to have their maiden launches in 2021.

Musk’s Blue Origin space project is competing directly with Elon Musk’s Space X project. However, Bezos is keeping his rocket program under wraps. Musk has been letting fans pass along real-time streaming video of its Raptor rocket engine test firings and Starship hops in South Texas over the past few months.

Bezos says he is ready to commit $1 billion per year or more to get Blue Origins off the ground and into space.

When the BE-4 has a successful track record of firing it will clear the way for engine production to shift from Blue Origin’s headquarters in Kent, Wash., to a 200,000-square-foot factory that’s currently under construction in Huntsville, Ala. That, in turn, will set the stage for the New Glenn rocket assembly to move ahead at Blue Origin’s 750,000-square-foot facility in Florida.

Bottom line? Keep an eye on Bezos’ Instagram account and Blue Origin’s Twitter account for word that the BE-4 has passed its final test. Space X recently launched its Falcon-9 rocket successfully.