Blue Origin, the private space travel company founded by Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos plans to launch its New Shepard rockets from Cape Canaveral.
Blue Origin will invest $200 million in Florida and create 330 jobs as it makes the Sunshine State its base of operations. The site, Complex 36, has been unused since 2005, according to Blue Origin, after sending 145 launches thundering into space during 43 years of service.
“We’re not just launching here, we’re building here,” Bezos said at a media event Tuesday also attended by Florida Governor Rick Scott.
The announcement by the Internet billionaire is the latest development in the private-sector push into commercial space travel. Blue Origin will create a “21st century” production facility at Exploration Park that will manufacture the company’s reusable fleet of orbital launchers, readying them for repeated flights. Putting vehicle assembly near the launch site will ease the challenge of processing and transporting “really big rockets,” the company said.
Blue Origin will begin launches from Florida later this decade. In the meantime, it will test its U.S.-made BE-4 engine on the site. The BE-4 will power the first flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket,scheduled to make its first flight in 2019. United Launch Alliance is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. that is the main supplier of U.S. defense launches.
Developing lower-cost ways to ferry tourists to the edge of space, loft astronauts into orbit and send supplies to the International Space Station has spurred a race between companies such as Blue Origin and rival billionaire space pioneer Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. as well as Boeing Co.