Blue Origin lays foundation for factory in Florida
While preparing for the first test of its in-flight abort system, Space Coast Daily reports that Blue Origin is also busy pouring the foundation for their new rocket factory at Exploration Park near Kennedy Space Center.
The $200 million, 750,000 square-foot (67,677 square-meter) rocket factory is expected to be completed as early as 2018 (originally reported as late 2017).
The launch vehicles produced there will be sent aloft from nearby Space Launch Complex 36 located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Unlike the vehicles Blue Origin is currently producing, the two-stage rockets built in Florida are designed to be capable of sending payloads to Earth orbit (the company’s New Shepard system is restricted to suborbital altitudes).
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos called the new vehicle as the orbital rocket’s “Very Big Brother” during an event held at SLC-36 in September of 2015.
Bezos told Space Coast Daily, “It’s exciting to see the bulldozers in action—we’re clearing the way for the production of a reusable fleet of orbital vehicles that we will launch and land, again and again.”
In addition to manufacturing Blue Origin’s orbital vehicles, it is possible that the Florida facility also could be used to fabricate the BE-4 engine, which is being designed as a replacement for the Russian-built RD-180 used to power the United Launch Alliance Atlas V family of rockets.
In response to a query from Spaceflight Insider about whether the engines would be built in Florida or Washington, the Blue Origin media team responded, “No selection for the engine production facility site selection has been made yet.”
Bart Leahy is a freelance technical writer living in Orlando, Florida. Leahy's diverse career has included work for The Walt Disney Company, NASA, the Department of Defense, Nissan, a number of commercial space companies, small businesses, nonprofits, as well as the Science Cheerleaders.