Jeff Bezos previews his Florida rocket factory

Blue Origin site
The steel structure for Blue Origin’s factory rises from a Florida site. (Blue Origin Photo via Jeff Bezos)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is showing off the “extraordinary progress” being made on the Florida factory where Blue Origin’s New Glenn orbital launch vehicle will be built.

“As you can see here, the first steel is now going up,” he wrote today in an email update, accompanied by a picture showing a lattice of girders rising from the construction site near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The 750,000-square-foot facility is due to open by the end of 2017 and produce New Glenn rockets for Blue Origin’s orbital missions. Test flights are expected to begin by the end of the decade, lifting off from Launch Complex 36 under the terms of a lease from Space Florida.

Meanwhile, Bezos’ Blue Origin venture is also proceeding with its New Shepard suborbital space program. The first full-fledged New Shepard rocket ship was retired after making five successful test flights to the edge of outer space and back.

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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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