Bezos Is Building A House For His Big Brother

Article written: 29 Jun , 2016
Updated: 22 Jul , 2016
by

Blue Origin and its founder Jeff Bezos do a little one-upmanship on the old saying, “go big or go home.” With the groundbreaking of their new orbital vehicle manufacturing complex, they are going big AND going home. The new facility will be located near Kennedy Space Center in Florida and will house Blue Origin’s orbital launch vehicle, which Bezos has sometimes referred to as “Very Big Brother.” The new facility has a planned grand opening of December 2017.

Site preparation for Blue Origin's new orbital vehicle manufacturing complex in Florida. Credit: Blue Origin.

Site preparation for Blue Origin’s new orbital vehicle manufacturing complex in Florida. Credit: Blue Origin.

Blue Origin announced the plans for the complex in September 2015, and bulldozers started clearing ground this week (June 28, 2016). The facility will be where Blue Origin manufactures, processes, integrates and tests its rockets.

“It’s exciting to see the bulldozers in action,” Bezos wrote in an email update. “We’re clearing the way for the production of a reusable fleet of orbital vehicles that we will launch and land, again and again.”

Bezos said the 750,000 square foot (70,000 sq. meter) building will be “custom-built from the ground up” and will enable “large scale friction stir welding and automated composite processing equipment,” among other things.

The entire launch vehicle will be manufactured in this new facility except for the engines, the BE-4 — which Blue Origin says will be flight qualified by 2017 — and are currently produced in Blue Origin’s Kent, Washington facility. But they plan to build a new, larger engine production facility to accommodate their projected need for higher production rates, and they will conduct a site selection process for that facility later this year.

Another artist concept of Blue Origin's orbital vehicle manufacturing complex in Florida. Credit: Blue Origin.

Another artist concept of Blue Origin’s orbital vehicle manufacturing complex in Florida. Credit: Blue Origin.

Another little one-upmanship: Blue Origin’s new facility will best SpaceX’s main factory, which is about 550,000 square feet (51,000 sq. meters). SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California building was originally used by Northrup Aircraft to build 747 fuselages (although, SpaceX’s total campus of buildings in Hawthorne is over 1.6 million square feet.)

Very Big Brother (VBB) will get an official name at some point, but it will be a vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) system, like Blue Origin’s smaller suborbital New Shepard rocket. The plan is to have VBB’s lower stage be reusable and the upper stage be expendable.

For launches, Blue Origin will share Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 36 with Google Lunar X PRIZE team Moon Express (MoonEx).

The New Shepard launching from its facility in West Texas. Image: Blue Origin

The New Shepard rocket launching from its facility in West Texas. Image: Blue Origin

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4 Responses

  1. dzmiller says

    Here’s where the money went from years of Amazon avoidance paying state sales tax. Instead of funding public schools, we have Bezos and his fun projects. Pathetic.

    • BlackWolfStanding says

      A lot of these jobs being creating here is high tech high pay jobs. This is where dreams are made from. Why so sour on such a great accomplishment?

    • Smokey says

      Government schools in the US by law are usually funded via local property taxes — not sales tax — so it’s the land/home owners you’re wanting to squeeze, not necessarily the business revenue. However, I’m sure that more kids are benefitting directly from a good (private school) education as a result of their parents’ Bezos-driven salary than Olympia ever could have reached via the public school system, even with ALL of that “lost” funding in hand with which to work. The politicians would rather have his PR clout & campaign contributions anyway, or he’d not have “gotten away” with it for so long. What can I say, besides “you get the government you elect?”

  2. Member
    Aqua4U says

    I didn’t think anything could be as exciting as seeing a Falcon rocket landing on land or barge.. Then ‘big brother’ comes on stage. Can’t wait to see what the design looks like. Simply a larger New Shepard or something even more exotic?

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