Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ private space company, broke ground Friday on its new rocket engine manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Alabama is a great state for aerospace manufacturing and we are proud to produce America’s next rocket engine right here in Rocket City,” Robert Meyerson, president of Blue Origin, said in a statement.
The new facility, to be built in Cummings Research Park, will build BE-4 rocket engines for use on Blue Origin spacecraft and on United Launch Allience’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket.
“United Launch Alliance welcomes Blue Origin to the great state of Alabama and to join the other aerospace companies that have made Rocket City our home for decades,” ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno said in a statement. “The state of Alabama knows how to attract and help business grow and I could not be more thrilled to be part of the resurgence of rocket and engine development in the Tennessee Valley.”
The production of the BE-4 engine will end the United State’s dependence on Russia for access to space for critical national security space systems.
“We look forward to our partnership with Blue Origin, building the advanced BE-4 engine to power our next-generation rocket, right here in Alabama!” Bruno said.
Blue Origin chose Huntsville, Alabama for this project because of the high-tech aerospace manufacturing workforce and ecosystem, including NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, nearly 300 private aerospace and defense contractors, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, number 14th in NASA research funding in the nation.
“Huntsville is proud to be the nation’s propulsion center of excellence, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner than Blue Origin to join our team. When you look at NASA’s visionary work at the Marshall Space Flight Center, the talent and capacity of Huntsville’s space industry partners, and our expertise in research and development, engineering, and manufacturing, Blue Origin is joining a truly remarkable environment,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.