Billionaire Blue Origin CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently announced in an interview that progress on the 750,000-square-foot plant is well underway.
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The new plant, located near the near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will bring 300 jobs to the area and is expected to be operational by the end of 2017. Many have hailed this as a turning point for the Florida space industry. Bezos also revealed an aerial snap of the early construction including steel beams and foundations.
“The team has made extraordinary progress. As you can see here, the first steel is now going up.”
Competing companies are concentrating on Florida at the moment, with United Launch Alliance and SpaceX both investing in the area for production and launch services.
“This is the first time we’ve had that launch and manufacturing piece in one spot. These are all good signs. This is a big change in the whole space business on the Space Coast.” Ray Lugo – Director of University of Central Florida’s Space Institute.
Blue Origin has headquarters in Kent, Washington, a launch facility in Texas and they are also looking to refurbish pads in Cape Canaveral, Florida. They have signaled their intent on using Space Launch Complex 36 and the unused pad next-door.
The new Florida facility was announced back in 2015, and planning permission and permits were all gained before the construction began. The facility will be used to create Blue Origin’s flagship launch system; the New Glenn rockets.
Company officials have been taking part in industry shows and events, talking heavily about the large investment made in Florida.
“This will be great for local contractors, in the immediate future. It’s also a major indicator that the industry is turning a corner — from smaller companies and hopeful plans — into being a commercial force out there.” – Justin Karl, program coordinator of Commercial Space Operations
Blue Origin are an exciting company and it is reassuring for both the company and the area that Bezos is investing. That being said, Blue Origin are playing catch-up with SpaceX who’ve already launched successful missions to resupply the International Space Station. Despite a minor setback, SpaceX will return to spaceflight next week and have high hopes in 2017 of putting astronauts into orbit.
“They still have yet to put something into orbit, but I don’t think anybody doubts they will. This is huge for us because … this is the first manufacturer of the business end of space launch where you generate fire and smoke from here; that’s an important milestone. The fact that we are now manufacturing the vehicle that boosts the payloads into orbit, that’s a big event.” – Dale Ketcham, Space Florida’s chief of strategic alliances
Photo’s courtesy of Blue Origin