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Seattle space leaders link up with lawmakers

Aerojet tour
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, get a tour of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s campus in Redmond, Wash., from the facility’s general manager, Ken Young. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

REDMOND, Wash. — One of Congress’ leading Democrats, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, met with leaders of the Seattle area’s space community today to make a pitch for his “Make It in America” campaign. They pitched back with an idea of their own: “Test It in Washington State.”

The Puget Sound region is quickly becoming known as a hub for space ventures such as Blue Origin, founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos; and Stratolaunch Systems, created by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. SpaceXSpaceflight Industries and LeoStella have a growing presence here as well.

Predating them all is Aerojet Rocketdyne, which traces its lineage in Redmond back to the 1960s and has built thrusters for a wide spectrum of NASA spacecraft — including the Mars Insight lander that’s due to touch down on the Red Planet next month.

Washington state’s space industry currently generates $1.8 billion worth of economic activity annually, according to a recently published report. But during today’s session at Aerojet’s Redmond facility, headlined by Hoyer as well as Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., several attendees noted that Washington is lagging behind other states such as California, Texas and Florida in one big area.

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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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