Blue Origin intends to continue flight tests for its New Shepard launch vehicle amid the coronavirus outbreak in an effort to meet its goals for suborbital spaceflight by the year’s end, SpaceNews reported Tuesday.
Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin, told the publication that the company is conducting vehicle verification activities for New Shepard in addition to preparing BE-4 engines slated for shipping and installation into United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket.
Smith said he expects the engines to undergo qualification testing ahead of delivery to ULA’s Decatur, Ala. facility over the next few months.
“We’re trying to get through development as quickly as possible to be ready for the lunar mission,” he said.
Smith’s comments come after Blue Origin opened a facility in Huntsville to house the production of BE-4 and BE-3U engines meant to power the company’s New Glenn orbital launch vehicle.
Blue Origin plans to install a test stand and other facilities to support engine testing activities, according to Smith.