Blue Origin brings a boon to the Space Coast, says one expert
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The era of space tourism took another leap forward on Tuesday with the successful launch and landing of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.
The manned launch of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and three others coincided with the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
What you need to know
- The new Shepard launch is the latest in space tourism expansion
- Space Florida officials say this will have a positive impact on the Space Coast
- The start on Wednesday was the first crewed start for Blue Origin
Although the launch took place more than 1,600 miles away in west Texas, Space Florida vice president of government and external relations Dale Ketcham said it will have a positive impact on the Space Coast.
“It enlivens America’s imagination, the planet’s imagination, of what a commercial marketplace can do for space travel,” he said.
Blue Origin, the aerospace company of Bezos, has a large presence on the Space Coast with its campus in Exploration Park, which is responsible for manufacturing the New Glenn rocket. There were 48 vacancies on Tuesday.
“This will reinvigorate Jeff Bezos’ commitment to his mission from the start because while New Shepard doesn’t start from here, New Glenn does and it’s a beast,” Ketcham said.
While the thought of bringing New Shepard to the Cape was beginning, Ketcham said it likely will never happen.
“As you climb higher and higher, you have a bigger and bigger footprint that the FAA requires to be empty,” said Ketcham. “And to go straight up from the Cape, you would have to evacuate Titusville, and that will be expensive.”
However, the other player in the suborbital tourism game, Virgin Galactic, offers some potential for the space coast. Ketcham said that after the first crewed launch earlier this month, the company plans to build more starships and launch from more locations around the world.
With Space Florida controlling the Launch and Landing Facility (LLF) thanks to a 30-year ownership contract with NASA, Ketcham said they are working to bring some of Virgin Galactic’s tourism business to Florida.
“They’re looking for the best business model to make money like they should,” he said. We’re going to close the deal. “
With the Inspiration4 mission about to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with an updated Crew Dragon capsule, orbital tourism for the Cape is just around the corner. This mission will also allow the astronauts in training to conduct some science experiments in low earth orbit.
Both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic made it possible for some science to travel into suborbital space.
“By lowering the cost to people, you are also lowering the cost of anyone to put a payload into orbit, and you are now making it a lot easier for a middle school class to make a Cubesat that can go into zero gravity for one a few minutes, ”said Ketcham. “And you can experiment with a test item, a digital twin, in your own classroom.”
Ketcham said that inspiring these future STEM employees will be key to advancing this booming industry.
“We’re in a space race again – the Chinese now have their own space station up there, a lot of people don’t know,” he said. “There are Chinese now who are orbiting in space and probably will be forever. and we’re in a race. We compete with them, the Russians, the Europeans, the Indians.
“This is a very competitive market and we must continue to inspire young people to maintain our economic competitiveness and for national security reasons.”