HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The aerospace industry in the Tennessee Valley continues to grow as Blue Origin broke ground in Cummings Research Park Friday morning. It’s a project that’s been years in the making.
Gov. Kay Ivey joined executives from Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, as well as local and state officials, for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new engine production facility in Cummings Research Park.
“We’re really excited to add them to our community and to get this facility up and running, as are they, and to support their workforce development efforts here in Huntsville,” said Erin Koshut, executive director of Cummings Research Park.
The company selected the Rocket City to build its BE-4 engine after landing a contract with United Launch Alliance.
Blue Origin will supply its next generation engine for the first stage of the massive Vulcan Centaur rocket that ULA is building at its Decatur manufacturing facility.
The Vulcan Centaur rocket is a new heavy lift vehicle that will replace ULA’s Atlas V Rocket, which is set for retirement in the early 2020s.
Blue Origin, owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, will eventually employ more than 300 people at its new Huntsville plant, representing a $200 million capital investment.
“It’s a significant contribution to our community. It certainly continues to reinforce our legacy in aerospace, but it also really looks towards the future. Blue Origin is at the cutting edge of what they do and who they support and we’re really excited to have them as a fabric of our community and to help them recruit their next generation of talent,” Koshut stated.
The Blue Origin site is located in the western portion of Cummings Research Park, at the corner of Explorer Boulevard and Pegasus Drive. The project will be built in two phases.
“Within about 12-18 months, we look forward to seeing the final facility and them starting to produce the engines,” Koshut said.
“It’s been a number of years since we had this many cranes all at once. Blue Origins is the latest in the development, but prior to that, BAE Systems is currently constructing their facility and Radiance Technologies is constructing their new headquarters facility in the park,” Koshut added. “They’re recruiting companies to join them as partners in efforts and really growing, not only the aerospace and defense heritage that we have, but they’re really looking at commercial efforts too. That further diversifies our economy.”