Blue Origin Officially Announces Florida Rocket Facility

Coming soon Credit : Blue Origin

Coming soon
Credit : Blue Origin

Blue Origin held an event at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 36 this morning to officially announce the company’s decision to select Florida as both the production and launch site for a new, orbital launch vehicle which has yet to named. Conducted during alternating sequences of sun and rain, the ceremony, which was hosted by Space Florida President Frank DiBello, featured a brief speech (included below) by and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.  Initially, Bezos had little to offer in the way of details regarding the launch vehicle his company plans to build in the Sunshine state, other than to note that the proximity of a production facility located in Exploration Park would allow the transport of “really big rockets.”

Following a long line of speakers which included Florida Governor Rock Scott, Senator Bill Nelson and even a congratulatory broadcast from the International Space Station, Bezos returned to the center of the stage to unveil the first image of the two, stage orbital rocket. Not surprisingly, the booster will feature a reusable first stage powered by the BE-4 methane/oxygen engine the company is developing with United Launch Alliance, and a second stage driven by the hydrogen/oxygen BE-3 engine which is already developing flight history on the New Shepard suborbital rocket. Like New Shepard, the new booster employ a vertical takeoff / vertical landing (VTVL) architecture.

Today’s announcement comes at the same time Aerojet-Rocketdyne is reportedly attempting to purchase United Launch Alliance from parent companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin for $2 billion, a transaction which could imperil Blue Origin’s agreement to supply 550,000 lb. thrust  BE-4 engines for ULA’s new Vulcan booster. If the deal goes through, Aerojet-Rocketdyne would presumably substitute its own AR-1 keralox engine for the Russian built RD-180 on the current Atlas V instead.

Blue Origin Press Release: Remarks from Jeff Bezos

Today we announced that we’ll be flying our orbital launch vehicle from Florida. Cape Canaveral has long been a gateway to humankind’s greatest adventures. As a kid, I was inspired by the giant Saturn V missions that roared to life from these shores. Now we are thrilled to be coming to the Sunshine State for a new era of exploration.

Our new home on the Space Coast is anchored by the launch site at Complex 36. During its 43 years of service, 145 launches thundered into space from this site. The Mariner missions – the first U.S. spacecraft to visit other planets – lifted off from Complex 36. So did Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt; Surveyor 1, the first U.S. spacecraft to land softly on the Moon; and multiple weather, communications and national defense payloads hopped their rides to space from LC-36. The site saw its last launch in 2005 and the pad has stood silent for more than 10 years – too long. We can’t wait to fix that.

One of the unique things about our Florida operations is that we aren’t just launching here, we’re building here. At Exploration Park, we’ll have a 21st century production facility where we’ll focus on manufacturing our reusable fleet of orbital launchers and readying them for flight again and again. Locating vehicle assembly near our launch site eases the challenge of processing and transporting really big rockets.

We’ll be launching from here later this decade. You will hear us before you see us. Our American-made BE-4 engine – the power behind our orbital launch vehicle – will be acceptance tested here. Our BE-4 engine will also help make history as it powers the first flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket.

Residents of the Space Coast have enjoyed front-row seats to the future for nearly 60 years. Our team’s passion for pioneering is the perfect fit for a community dedicated to forging new frontiers. Keep watching.

Gradatim Ferociter!

Jeff Bezos

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