Blue Origin and the BE-4

An interesting decision occurred on Sept 27, 2018, when the United Space Alliance – the Lockheed Martin – Boeing consortium that launches many US payloads into space, chose Blue Origin’s BE-4 as the main rocket for their next generation Vulcan rocket. The decision is another case where an ‘upstart’ space company, this one backed by Billionaire Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame, won out over ‘traditional’ space contractors, in this case the successor’s to Rocketdyne, the storied developer of the F-1 and J-2 engines that powered the Apollo era Saturn V. While not unexpected, the decision in favor of Blue Origin is interesting in that their BE-4 engine was considered more mature and more advanced than the other offerings. this decision is another one of the developments in the Space field in the last decade that indicate we are seeing a tectonic shift away from traditional contractors, and the traditional way of doing things, changes that promise a much faster pace of advancement and lowering of costs for Space exploration in the near future. – Kurt C

November meeting summary


On November 25 we had our last regularly scheduled meeting for 2012, with seven members in attendance.  Mark could not make it, being still in Florida after seeing MSL launch as a Tweetup VIP, Dan and Mina were out for the holidays, and Kris was under the weather, but we still had a good turnout, including a surprise drop by of Judah and his wife.

Of course, the big news was the perfect launch of MSL the day before.  Curtis brought his laptop and we could all see again the launch and orbit of the biggest baddest probe ever sent to Mars.  243 days to go till it lands, but who’s counting!

Tom gave us a rundown on the History Channel’s ‘Crash Landing on Mars’ (its on YouTube) where Bob Z was interviewed, and Lucinda from National had a cameo as a stranded astronaut struggling to get to the return vehicle.  Never know what you will find on late night TV!

We discussed some of the conditions at the MDRS site regarding providing shelter for the URC competition, but we could not get an update on the editing and publishing status with Kris’s absence.

2011 has been a good year for our group, but we all did let the pace slow a bit
after the convention – naturally enough – but we need to step it back up in 2012!

Hope to see you all at Carol’s Christmas party, and we will start up our regular meetings again in the end of January, 2012.

If not, happy holidays and new year, and smooth landings!


Yes, another month has gone by…


Yes, another month has gone by.  Thanksgiving is upon us, Christmas and New Year’s is around the corner, and MSL is about to launch!

We will be having our regular monthly meeting this Sunday at 6:30 pm at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Plano, same as always, near rt 75 and 15th street.

Our meeting comes right after the scheduled liftoff of the MSL, scheduled for 9:02 AM central on Saturday, November 26.  After the delay from Friday I doubt we’ll be able to get any video of it, but we will have a member there as an eyewitness!  As you probably know, Mark S has been invited as part of the NASA tweetup to attend and witness the launch!!  Mark will not be back in time for a first hand accounting, but we’ll catch up with him and hear about it from him in time.  One of our own will be personally in attendance to see the most important launch regarding Mars since Viking!!  I’m sure it will be an awesome sight and we’ll get word back from Mark.

We can also discuss the progress regarding our editing and publishing the proceedings and papers from the last series of Mars Society conferences.  Progress has been slow of late as we head into the always busy holiday season, but stay tuned.  As we move into the new year we also need to start thinking about the initiatives we discussed regarding the University Rover Competition and the Moon Day for 2012.

I do need to apologize that I have not kept things moving as much as I had hoped and wanted. Looking back 2011 has been a great year for our group, highlighted by our hosting the 2011 convention, and 2012 looks to be an exciting year.

See you all Sunday!