New Huntsville facility to help in manufacturing rocket engines for Blue Origin

Huntsville is now home to the Blue Origin's newest engine production facility.

Posted: Feb 17, 2020 5:30 PM

After years of back and forth, Huntsville is now the home to Blue Origin's newest engine production facility.

State and local leaders were in the Rocket City on Monday for the opening of the $200 million project!

"It's not everyday a brand new rocket factory gets open. And that happens once in a generation," says John Vilja, the senior vice president of Blue Origin.

Blue Origin is now officially in Huntsville - where it will handle the development of the BE-4 and BE3-U engines, that run on liquid natural gas.

They hope to fill the facility with 300 people by 2023.

"We'll be able to test both of the engines that's we'll build here. So we'll be able to build them, test them, and get them ready for flight right here in Huntsville," says Vilja.

But it wasn't always a done deal. In 2017, Blue Origin said it would build a Huntsville facility, only if it won a United Launch Alliance contract to build the engine for ULA's new vulcan rocket. It won that contract in September 2018.

Blue Origin invested $200 million into the facility, and Alabama put up $20 million in incentives.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle says he's proud of the partnership.

"We're gonna take ourselves back to places such as the moon, Mars, way back into space and we're going to be able to make things that go right here in Huntsville, Alabama," says Battle.

"Huntsville has a really nice base of people who are experienced with rocket engines. It's the Rocket City and we were able to find really great employees here," says Vilja.

Of the $20- million in incentives, $6 million of that came from the city of Huntsville and Madison County.

$1 million went to the company to offset construction costs. The rest involves the land in Research Park where the facility was built.

It was valued between $4 million and $5 million.

Blue Origin also founded the nonprofit, Club for the Future. The program inspires youth to pursue careers in STEM and space.

"I've always been intersted in it and it's really amazing to start this at such a young age. It's really cool," says 14-year-old Evelyn Torteson, who is a member of the club.

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