The focus of attention on Blue Origin, the secretive space colonization initiative backed by Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, has shifted from Texas to the Pacific Northwest.
The Seattle Times is reporting that documents filed with the city of Kent, Wash. and with the Federal Aviation Administration show Blue Origin is revamping a 243,000-square-foot office and warehouse to accommodate rocket assembly equipment and a staff that will grow from 40 people currently to as many as 100 over the next several years. The low-profile, high-altitude start-up is expected to move into its new quarters in the first quarter of 2006.
Costs for the Kent expansion are approximately $21 million, according to the Seattle Times story--$13 million for 25 acres of industrial land, and $8 million for remodeling of the structures. Amazon, the e-commerce company Bezos founded a decade ago, is based in nearby Seattle--also the home, probably coincidentally, of the famed Space Needle tower.
Bezos revealed earlier in the year that testing of the rocketships will take place in an out-of-the-way part of west Texas. Blue Origin's initial space vehicles are expected to be reusable, vertical-launch suborbital craft controlled by on-board computers.