After a busy week at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in an exclusive look at the electronics behind-the-scenes for a series of EDN technical articles, I was driving out of the KSC on NASA’s main road and saw to my right the white and blue building under construction which, I have on good sources, is Jeff Bezos’ 750,000-square-foot facility where all of the components for their new Glenn orbital vehicle will be built. The rocket engine will be built in Huntsville, Alabama. See Figure 1.
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin facility going up on 300 acres at NASA Kennedy Space Center, at Exploration Park, which should open by the end of 2017 (Image courtesy of Loretta Taranovich)
Blue Origin will also refurbish the historic Atlas II launch site, Space Launch Complex 36 (SLC-36) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Blue Origin’s New Glenn will be the primary user of the BE-4 rocket engine which is touted to end America’s dependence on Russian rocket engines by 2019. The New Glenn space vehicle is scheduled for a test launch before 2020.
The talk is that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos wants to fly unmanned cargo missions to the Moon starting in July 2020 as part of an effort to establish a permanent lunar colony there. To start things off Bezos is proposing to NASA a shipment service for the Moon that would deliver equipment and supplies for experiments, cargo and possibly even habitats (See my coming article on NASA habitats for Lunar and Mars explorers from my recent behind-the-scenes exclusive visit with NASA KSC scientists and engineers regarding the technology behind the habitats.)
It will be interesting to see how things develop from this effort. Blue Origin joins Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing as high-profile companies that want to build commercial spacecrafts and have a presence on the KSC property.