New rocket factory plans 330 jobs in Florida

Amazon.com founder bringing $200 million company to Space Coast

BY SCOTT POWERS
ORLANDO SENTINEL/TNS

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION — Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos announced Tuesday that his Blue Origin space company will assemble rockets in Florida and launch them from a long-dormant launch complex here.

Jeff Bezos, left, debuts a launch vehicle on Tuesday as Florida Gov. Rick Scott applauds during a press conference Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.(RED HUBER/ORLANDO SENTINEL/TNS)
Jeff Bezos, left, debuts a launch vehicle on Tuesday as Florida Gov. Rick Scott applauds during a press conference Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
(RED HUBER/ORLANDO SENTINEL/TNS)

The effort will bring 330 new jobs to a $200 million Blue Origin Space Coast rocket factory outside the gates of Kennedy Space Center, and at assembly, processing and testing facilities adjacent to the launch pad, he said. This region of Florida is known as the Space Coast.

Launches should begin late in this decade, he said, from Launch Complex 36, a site that had sent rockets into deep space decades ago before shutting down in 2005.

The liftoffs likely will include both manned and unmanned rockets that are currently under design as orbital vehicles. Until now, Blue Origin has only built and launched sub-orbital rockets, from the company’s private launch complex in West Texas.

Pledges partnership
In a brief speech, Bezos revealed few details of his plans during an announcement attended by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and scores of NASA, Air Force, political and space business VIPs. He did, however, pledge a partnership between his company and the Space Coast.

“You residents of the Space Coast have enjoyed front-row seats to the future for almost 60 years.

That’s pretty cool,” Bezos said. “Our team’s passion for pioneering is the perfect fit for a community dedicated to forging new frontiers. Please keep watching.”

‘We’re building here’
Bezos said the orbital rockets would be designed in the company’s home offices outside Seattle, but would be manufactured, assembled, tested and launched at Cape Canaveral, which is about 50 miles east of Orlando. The suborbital rockets will continue to be launched in West Texas.

“We’re not just launching from here. We’re building here. At Exploration Park, we’ll have 21st-century production facilities where we’ll focus on manufacturing our reusable fleet of orbital launchers, and readying them for flight again and again,” Bezos said.

“Locating the vehicle assembly near our launch site makes it way easier to process and transport really big rockets,” he said. “We’ll be launching from here later this decade.”

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