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Jeff Bezos' space company to build, launch rockets in Central Florida

Blue Origin to take tourists to edge of space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is shipping his space business to Florida.

[READ: Full statement from Jeff Bezos ]

At a news conference Tuesday, Bezos announced that his Blue Origin space company will build rockets at Kennedy Space Center's Exploration Park and launch them into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 36.

"The site saw its last launch in 2005 and has stood silent for more than 10 years," said Bezos. "Too long. We can't wait to fix that. "

"Blue Origin has picked the great state of Florida as a base of operations," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. "Investing $200 million locally and adding 330 jobs so congratulations to everyone for making that happen."

Bezos says he picked the Space Coast over several other sites.

"We went into into detailed negotiations with five different states and chose Florida for a bunch of reasons," said Bezos. "Geographically it's advantageous and because there's a large talent pool to hire from."

Bezos unveiled the new orbital rocket that he will build and launch from the Space Coast to be powered by both Blue Origin's BE-3 and BE-4 engines. It will launch and land vertically, said Bezos.

"What really drives up the cost of space travel is throwing away the hardware every time you use it," said Bezos. "So re-usability is the key and that's what we've been working on for the last 10 years."

"The rocket is very interesting," said CBS News space analyst Bill Harwood. "It's fully re-usuable, the stages can be refurbished and relaunched."

Harwood said Blue Origin is giving itself an advantage by building and launching the rocket from the same area.

"So it's all going to be concentrated right here on the Space Coast," said Harwood. "Everyone else has to ship them. They're going to build them right here truck them across the canal and they're ready to fly."

The billionaire entrepreneur said he plans to send up science payloads and people -- a million of them -- including space tourists and even himself. Bezos says he wants to ride one of his own spacecraft into orbit one day.

He expects the first rocket launch from Florida by the end of the decade.

Harwood was skeptical.

"Space travel is very challenging and it's very dangerous," said Harwood. "It's going to take him a while to make this dream come true, if it ever does."

Blue Origin is already testing its suborbital rockets from a remote part of Texas. The first test flight was in April.

Bezos said the BE-4 will be approval-tested at Cape Canaveral to be used to power United Launch Alliance's next generation Vulcan rocket in the early 2020's.

Bezos went to high school in Miami and attended college at Princeton University.

"I come by the space bug honestly," said Bezos. "As a kid I was inspired by the giant Saturn V missions that roared to life from these very shores. Today we're thrilled to be coming to the Sunshine State for a new era of exploration."

"You residents of the Space Coast have enjoyed front row seats to the future for almost 60 years, that's pretty cool," said Bezos. "And our team's passion for pioneering is the perfect fit for a community dedicated to forging new frontiers. Please keep watching. Thank you."

Blue Origin is based in Kent, Washington.


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