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Lawmakers geek out over space industry

Image: Blue Origin celebration
Employees at Blue Origin’s headquarters in Kent, Wash., cheer as they watch the landing of the company’s New Shepard test spaceship on Nov. 23. “How do we steal that video?” Lt. Gov. Brad Owen joked after watching a clip showing the celebration. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Washington state legislators got an introduction to the state’s space industry today at Seattle’s Museum of Flight – and voiced amazement at how much is going on.

“I feel so illiterate in this field, it’s unbelievable,” state Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, remarked at one point during today’s meeting of the Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations. Afterward, Hewitt said he knew “100 percent” more about the field than he did at the start of the hearing.

State Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, marveled when she heard Aerojet Rocketdyne executive Roger Myers list all the missions his company in which his company has played a part, ranging from the Apollo missions to the moon, to the space shuttle program, to robotic missions that have visited every planet (yes, including Pluto).

“I would wager that most of the people in this state do not know what you’re doing in Redmond,” Chase told Myers.

That was the point of today’s hearing, presided over by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen: to let legislators know that there’s much more than Boeing to the state’s profile in the aerospace industry.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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