The chief executive of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Jeff Bezos, announced that his company Blue Origin will be launching spacecraft from our beloved Florida. Bezos will be stationing his company in Cape Canaveral and adjacent the Blue Origin quarters, Bezos will have a manufacturing and testing facility.
The Miami-native revealed that he chose the Sunshine State over four prospective states because of its geographical advantages and burgeoning technical labor pool.
With $220 million in funding, the company is aiming to provide 330 jobs to the area. A much-needed investment, as the area has experienced an economic downturn following NASA’s decision to terminate the space shuttle program.
The New Space Race
The usually secretive Blue Origin conceded that they are planning to send the rockets into orbit within the decade. “You will hear us before you see us. Our American-made BE-4 engine—the power behind our orbital launch vehicle—will be acceptance-tested here,” said Bezos. The launches will be initiated from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 36, formerly the Point A for the Pioneer missions, and the Mariner programs, among others. If everything goes according to the plan, then Blue Origin’s launch will be the site’s first in over a decade.
Last year, the company revealed that they had struck a deal with United Alliance, a partnership between Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT). Blue Origin would provide United Alliance with engines for spacecraft. Further, the company inked a deal with NASA to manufacture reusable rockets for the government agency.
Unfortunately, a malfunction in the hydraulic system in one of Blue Origin’s crafts led to a crash earlier this year. Thankfully, there was no one on board and no injuries on the ground. Despite the setback, Bezos remains optimistic.
Blue Origin was originally established in 2000, with the goal of sending a man into space. It is safe to assume, however, the spacecraft will used for other payloads, as well.
The last person to enjoy a private (not government-commissioned) trip into space was Guy Laliberté, billionaire and founder of Cirque du Soleil, in 2009. Laliberté paid 35 million dollars for the trip with Space Adventures, a space tourism company founded by aerospace engineer Eric C. Anderson in 1998.
Space Adventures is just one of the other companies looking to rival Bezos’s Blue Origin.
Other players include companies like Virgin Galactic (established by Sir Richard Branson), Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Aerospace to name a few.
Musk is the founder of the oft-praised electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc (NADAQ:TSLA), while Branson is the CEO of Virgin Group Ltd, which owns both Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) and the airline Virgin America (NASDAQ:VA)
In 2013, Virgin Galactic inked a deal with NBC news to create a reality television program dubbed “Space Race.” According to reports, the show "will follow contestants as they compete to win a flight into space aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane.”
Of course as the space tourism industry continues to blossom, the prices will become more affordable, allowing people from varied walks of life to experience a journey Laliberté described as being “worth every penny.”
According to a 2010 report from the Federal Aviation Administration, space tourism has the potential to become a billion-dollar industry in the next 20 years.
Bezos, however, aspires for something more impactful than a quick buck.
“The long term goal is millions of people living in space,” said Bezos.