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Bezos' Blue Origin to launch New Shepard rockets from Florida

Bezos is one of several tech billionaires to ramp up investments in the private space race.

By Brooks Hays
Bezos' Blue Origin to launch New Shepard rockets from Florida
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told reporters his space rocket company, Blue Origin, will base its rocket building and launching operations in Cape Canaveral, Florida. File photo by UPI Photo/John Angelillo | License Photo

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The rocket-launching operations of Blue Origin, the private space company started by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, will be headquartered at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Base.

Bezos announced the company's new location at a press conference on Tuesday. Currently, the company is based out of Kent, Wash., with a remote testing facility in Texas.

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"We're not just launching here, we're building here," Bezos told reporters at a press event. "Our ultimate vision is millions of people living and working in space."

Bezos expects the company's first commercial rocket, called New Shepard, to launch by the end of the decade. It will be powered by a BE-4 engine, a collaborative effort between Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, itself a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

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The new building and launch operation will encompass a $200 million investment, with a promise of 330 new jobs in Cape Canaveral.

Bezos is one of several tech billionaires to ramp up investments in the private space race. Paypal founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk continues to expand the ambitions of his space company, SpaceX. Musk's company has been successful in launching several private communication satellites. SpaceX has also executed several ISS resupply cargo missions, as part of an ongoing contract with NASA. But it also suffered a setback in July when one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded.

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Meanwhile, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson remains committed to building a space tourism industry.

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Bezos' remarks suggests the space race isn't an exercise in ego, but a combination of vision and sincere passion.

"I come by the space bug honestly," he said. "As a kid, I was inspired by the giant Saturn 5 missions that roared to life from these very shores."

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