Blue Origin, the spaceflight company started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, will manufacture its BE-4 engine in a state-of-the art production facility to be built in the state’s Rocket City, Huntsville, Alabama.
The new facility will be in Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second-largest research park, and construction can begin once an engine production contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA) is awarded. Blue Origin expects to invest approximately $200 million and employ up to 342 people in this new facility.
The BE-4 is America’s next rocket engine and will power ULA’s Vulcan rocket, if it’s selected for the project. The production of this engine would end the nation’s dependence on Russia for access to space for critical national security space systems.
“Alabama is a great state for aerospace manufacturing and we are proud to produce America’s next rocket engine right here in Rocket City,” said Robert Meyerson, President of Blue Origin.
“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, ” he added. “Huntsville is a hub of innovation in every facet of aerospace, making it the perfect home for this Blue Origin facility.”
“We are excited to welcome Blue Origin to Alabama. I must commend founder Jeff Bezos and company President Robert Meyerson for their vision to create this innovative company, and for choosing to make Alabama its Home Sweet Home,” Governor Kay Ivey said.
“Because of this investment, more men and women can provide a better living for their families, and it helps cement Alabama as the preferred destination for the aerospace industry,” she added. “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.”
Many economic development partners contributed to the effort to successfully recruit Blue Origin to the state as part of what was called “Project Eagle.” These partners include the Governor’s office, the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the City of Huntsville, Madison County and the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.
“Blue Origin’s decision to locate its BE-4 engine manufacturing center in Huntsville reflects the deep and longstanding capabilities in the city that became the cradle of the nation’s rocket program,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Huntsville is a hub of innovation in every facet of aerospace, making it the perfect home for this Blue Origin facility.”
Blue Origin said it chose Huntsville 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.