HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - On Monday morning at Space and Rocket Center, Governor Kay Ivey announced that Blue Origin will build a 400,000 square foot facility at Cummings Research Park.
Blue Origin is a privately-owned aerospace company founded by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. The company develops vehicles and technologies to enable commercial human space transportation.
"Today I think we are all part of the 'Blue Man group,'" said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.
Gov. Kay Ivey said that the business plans to hire nearly 350 people with an average pay of $75,000. Governor Ivey said she was at the Paris Air Show last week talking with aerospace industry leaders.
"We will be exploring space differently than the way it was done in the past. Blue Origin, Welcome to Alabama!," said Ivey.
Two years ago, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Blue Origin announced their partnership on a production agreement to expand production capabilities for the American-made BE-4 engine that will power ULA's Vulcan rocket.
According to Blue Origin's website, the BE-4 is a liquid oxygen, liquefied natural gas (LNG) rocket engine that delivers 550,000-lbf of thrust at sea level.
"Alabama is a great state for aerospace manufacturing and we are proud to produce America's next great rocket engine right here in the Rocket City," said Blue Origin President Robert Mayerson.
The company will also use the Huntsville facility to advance its own orbital launch vehicle called New Glenn.
Blue Origin is expected to make an impact for students at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Several students have either completed an internship with the company or they're currently interning for them.
UAH President,Bob Altenki said Blue Origin's arrival to the Rocket City is a great resource for their students. Altenkirch said enrollment is on the rise at UAH mainly, in part, because of the aerospace program. He said the aerospace program is one of the fastest growing programs at the college.
"By bringing all these propulsion people together, we should have many more opportunities to interact with them," said Altenkirch. He also mentioned that whenever a big company like Blue Origin comes into town, it helps to strengthen the aerospace program at UAH.
Construction on the new building is expected to begin at the end of this year.
"This project is the next generation of space in Huntsville, Madison County, and the region," said Greg Canfield, Alabama Secretary of Commerce.
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