Blue Origin, the Jeff Bezos-funded space company, said it has completed testing of a liquid-hydrogen engine designed in Kent and will begin experimental launches this year.

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Blue Origin, the space company bankrolled by Jeff Bezos, said Tuesday it has completed testing of the liquid-hydrogen rocket engine designed at its Kent development and production center, and will start experimental flights of a suborbital launch system this year.

The company is a long way from its declared goal of “making space safe, reliable and affordable so that millions of people can go.”

But Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson said the BE3 engine sets the stage for “dozens of flights” in the next two years by the company’s New Shepard vehicle, intended to carry three or more people on 10- to 12-minute trips to a height of about 62 miles.

The New Shepard capsule is designed to return to Earth for a ground landing with parachutes, while the booster stage is intended to autonomously steer to a landing on an ocean platform.

The system is meant to be capable of autonomous flight, and after unmanned testing Blue Origin will decide whether to include a pilot astronaut on board, Meyerson said.

The company has 400 employees divided between its Kent headquarters and its launch site in Texas. It lists 24 types of job openings on its website, nearly all in Kent.

Blue Origin is also developing a BE4 engine, designated as “the primary propulsion provider” for the next launch system being developed by United Launch Alliance, the partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Meyerson said the BE3 underwent 450 tests, running for a total of 500 minutes and consuming 3.3 million gallons of liquid hydrogen.

A key characteristic of the engine is the ability to operate at thrust ranging from a maximum of 110,000 pounds down to 20,000 pounds, to be used when the booster is navigated back to Earth.

Reuse of those booster rockets is part of the strategy at Blue Origin — as it is at SpaceX, the rival rocket company founded by California tech billionaire Elon Musk.

SpaceX has delivered cargo to the International Space Station with its Falcon 9 launch vehicle but has not yet succeeded in recovering a booster rocket intact. A January attempt ended with a spectacular explosion on the target barge.

Another Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for April 13, officials said Tuesday.

Meyerson said he expects to see “dozens if not hundreds of uses” for the recoverable launch vehicle once the technology is perfected. However, he noted, “Obviously, you can’t reuse it if you can’t recover it.”

The company will launch its suborbital New Shepard flights from the vast property Bezos acquired in West Texas. For future orbital flights, the company is scouting a suitable site in Florida or other undisclosed states, he said.

Meyerson declined to predict when Blue Origin would be ready to carry paying passengers on the New Shepard, saying only, “We’re probably a few years away from selling tickets.”