The Space Age is finally becoming a reality. Although most historians would argue that the Space Age began back in the 1950s with the first manned flights into space, by the standards of most futurists and science fiction fans, the last fifty years has been a disappointingly slow start to the Space Age. That, however, is changing rapidly today, as private enterprise is becoming increasingly involved in developing spaceflight all across the globe.
The latest sign of the times is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announcing on Tuesday, September 15th that his new rocket firm Blue Origin was investing $200 million in a new manufacturing plant and launch facility at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Aerospace industry analysts note that the new company is competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
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This new space startup from Jeff Bezos is looking to build a rocket manufacturing plant next to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, according to Florida state officials. The new rockets will be sent into space from a rebuilt launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is only a mile or so south of NASA’s spaceport.
Tuesday’s announcement from Blue Origin comes on the heels of Boeing announcing last week it was building a commercial spaceship assembly plant at the Kennedy Space Center. The two projects were drawn up with financial backing from state, local and regional economic development agencies. According to public documents, Florida has invested close $2 billion so far to attract aerospace firms to set up operations in the state.
More on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin
Blue Origin has moved to the advanced testing phase for a small rocket (New Shepard) that can travel about 100 miles above the planet before returning to Earth. The firm’s second-generation rockets are designed for orbital altitudes, including the 250-mile-high International Space Station.
Bezos showed up at Cape Canaveral to make the announcement in person, noted Blue Origin will test its BE-4 engines at the new Florida aunch site. Blue Origin is working with United Launch Alliance, a joint-venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, on developing the the engine for the rocket.
The new rockets also will compete with those being developed by United Launch Alliance, and those of SpaceX, founded by tech guru and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk.