AL.com is reporting that #Blue Origin, the space launch company run by Amazon.com’s founder Jeff Bezos, intends to build a rocket engine factory in Huntsville, Alabama.
City and state officials in Huntsville, Ala., announced Monday that the rocket company Blue Origin would build the engine of its next-generation BE-4 rocket there, spurning agencies on the Space Coast that had hoped to lure that work to Central Florida.
Huntsville, Alabama, is the site of NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center which specializes in rocket research and development. “The area’s skilled workforce and leading role in rocket propulsion development make Huntsville the ideal location for our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility”.
Nearly as important and, in some ways, perhaps more important than the distinct business advantage of locating it in Huntsville, are the political considerations. The BE-4 will also power Blue Origin’s New Glenn reusable launch system with seven BE-4s on the reusable first stage and a vacuum-optimized BE-4U on the second stage. Shelby, who has a lot of aerospace companies on his contributor’s list and space workers as constituents, is not likely to allow such a move.
Blue Origin President Robert Meyerson said his company is seeking a production contract with United Launch Alliance, a private company that provides satellite launches for the USA government and others. According to the company’s website, the powerful BE-4 engine is created to end dependence on Russian-built engines for launching payloads into space.
The important caveat to this announcement is that it’s contingent on Blue Origin obtaining the contract to build the engine for United Launch Alliance.
“Huntsville is a hub of innovation in every facet of aerospace, making it the flawless home for this Blue Origin facility”.
If ULA decides against going with the BE-4, it has a “Plan B” in place to use Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 rocket engine instead.
“Today’s announcement ensures that our community will continue to be at the center of the world’s rocket propulsion development”. She’s gathering more information about Blue Origin and it’s placement in Huntsville.
However, the engine still must complete testing and gain acceptance from ULA. “Blue Origin’s presence will have a positive impact on our state, our region and our community”, said Chip Cherry, president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.