Blue Origin quietly prepares for its $200 million facility in America’s main space port city
The State of Florida is setting aside $17 million from the Department of Transportation for Launch Complex 36 which will be the site of Blue Origin’s New Glenn reusable rocket launches.
Blue Origin’s founder, Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, originally announced the plan to use the pad back in September 2015, saying then it had “stood silent” for far too long. Bezos also promises his company will match the government’s contributions, bringing the total budget for refurbishing the launch complex to $34 million.
Blue Origin announced two new rocket models late last year to be named after the late astronaut John Glenn who in 1962 became the first American to ever orbit the Earth. They will open a 750,000 sq. ft. factory for the rockets at the Kennedy Space Center at some point in 2018.
Bezos’s company has vowed to spend $200 million on the facility and employ 330 people.
“We’re not just launching here, we’re building here,” Bezos said during the public announcement of the project back in September 2015, where Florida Governor Rick Scott attended. “Our ultimate vision is millions of people living and working in space.”
The budget also includes $19.5 million for “operations and job creation funding for Space Florida,” the public agency within the state department for transportation which deals with the local space industry around Cape Canaveral. Florida Today reported that would be divvied up for $10 million for operations, $7 million for new business financing, $1.5 for space-related tourism (as opposed to actually exploring above the atmosphere), and $1 million to beef up R&D in a partnership with Israel.
Two weeks ago, Bezos sent out an email update about the development of the company’s new BE-4 rocket engine, detailing some of the progress Blue Origin had made in its design.
“For even more performance, you can add one or more boost pumps ahead of the main pumps. We’ve done that on the oxidizer side of our BE-4 engine. Our Ox Boost Pump (OBP) design leverages 3-D additive manufacturing to make many of the key components,” said Bezos, noting that the second iteration of the OBP was now being tested.
“The housing is a single printed aluminum part and all of the stages of the hydraulic turbine are printed from Monel, a nickel alloy. This manufacturing approach allows the integration of complex internal flow passages in the housing that would be much more difficult to make using conventional methods. The turbine nozzles and rotors are also 3-D printed and require minimum machining to achieve the required fits.”