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Blue Origin begins third major expansion of Huntsville facility

Blue Origin has been issued a $8.4 million building permit by local Huntsville authorities as part of the third major expansion of its rocket-manufacturing facility there.

According to the report, of the 377 permits issued so far in October and November, this was the largest. All three expansions have occurred in the past three years.

The article however includes this ridiculous statement:

The aerospace company owned by Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin has emerged as one of the top commercial spaceflight companies as the country has placed a renewed effort on returning to the moon and eventually to Mars.

How could Blue Origin be “one of the top commercial spaceflight companies” when it has still not launched anything into orbit? Even the tiny rocket startup Astra, now on the verge of bankruptcy, put more mass into orbit than Blue Origin. Everyone has, since the mass Blue Origin has put into orbit so far equals a nice fat zero.

This expansion however does suggest that something positive might finally be happening at the company. With the removal of Bob Smith as CEO and Jeff Bezos now living in Florida and closer to the action it could be that the continuing string of non-accomplishment that has made Blue Origin a bit of a joke in the space industry might possibly be ending.

We shall have to wait and see, however.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Dick Eagleson

    Blue’s Huntsville operation is not a rocket plant. Blue Origin does its rocket manufacturing in two places – Kent. WA for New Shepards and the giant factory it built some years ago just outside the gates of KSC for – it is said, anyway – New Glenn. Thus far, as you and we readers both know well, actual manufacturing of New Glenns has proven merely aspirational, with flight-ready hardware still very much yet to put in an appearance.

    What Blue is supposedly doing in Huntsville is manufacturing BE-4 and BE-3U engines. But we have seen none of the latter. And what few BE-4s we have seen to-date have been slowly and painfully turned out at the much smaller Kent, WA factory. The Huntsville “engine factory” has allegedly been supplying parts to Kent but has yet to independently produce a single BE-4 or BE-3U so far as I am aware. That makes the purpose of its previous expansions since its original “completion” as mysterious as this reported new one now in the works.

    With the clocks on major time-sensitive launch contracts ticking down both for Blue and for ULA, one hopes this latest expansion of Blue’s Huntsville works soon results in actual engine production. Expansions toward this end are certainly justified as the annual capacity of the original Huntsville factory, given at the time of its alleged “completion” some years ago, was for a combined total of only 48 engines per year, split between BE-4s and BE-3Us. But, thus far, total production for both the original and expanded versions of the Huntsville engine “factory” has been zero.

    If 2024 does not bring a radical change to the status quo ante at Blue under its upcoming new management then a year hence Amazon will likely have been forced to go, cap in hand, to SpaceX for Kuiper launches and Blue will be a failed Potemkin village.

  • Gary

    I hope this works out better for the area than the rail car building company that – I’m pretty sure – occupied this facility in the beginning. That was a boondoggle from the beginning and cost the taxpayers of the state millions in “investment” dollars.

  • James Street

    $8.4 million isn’t much of a building.

  • Richard M

    I think if you worded it to say ““one of the top commercial spaceflight fancy building complex companies,” it would be quite accurate!

  • David Eastman

    The link in the post is bad, can’t read the source article.

  • David Eastman: Thank you. Link is fixed.

  • Shallow Minded Reader

    I’d love to see Blue groveling over at Roscosmos for launches.

  • Dick Eagleson

    James Street,

    $8.4 million will actually buy a decent-sized pre-fab steel building. And it will buy a bigger one in AL than the same sum would in WA.

    Shallow Minded Reader,

    Aside from ITAR and sanction considerations, the Russians don’t have anywhere near the vehicle production and launch capacity to fill in for Blue and ULA. I’m afraid your fantasy of Jeff Bezos going to Roscosmos to borrow a cup of launch will remain very much in the same category as all of your notions about Russia winning its spectacularly ill-advised war with Ukraine.

  • Jeff Wright

    Musk invested a lot of money in Starbase…getting a real production line.

    Bezos is just doing it by fits and starts… begrudging every cent.

  • Lee S

    @ Dick Eagleson,

    Can you link to whatever thread you mentioned with a discussion on the Russia – Ukraine war. I have some “boots on the ground” information on the opinions of the Swedish folks here, and and a few ideas I wouldn’t mind bouncing around the community here. ( Some of which you might find surprising )

  • wayne

    So… is everyone in Sweden fed up, yet?
    Looks like the Irish are finally going to stand up and mow the lawn, all the way.

  • Ray - SoCa

    A bit pro Russian, but information seems very solid:

  • Seawriter

    When I review SpaceX documents I think better check this over carefully. It’s gonna happen.

    When I review a NASA or ESA document I think, do a good review, it is likely to happen.

    When I review a Blue Origin document I thing, I really need to be careful look it over carefully, because otherwise I might get sloppy because this isn’t happening.

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