Blue Origin seeks environmental permit for Kennedy Space Center campus expansion

The Blue Origin facility at Exploration Park near Kennedy Space Center. (Blue Origin, Blue Origin)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – The world’s second-richest man’s rocket company has applied to modify an environmental permit to expand its factory at Kennedy Space Center.

According to News 6′s partner Florida Today, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin seeks to modify a stormwater management system for an almost 90-acre project and has applied for a permit from the St. Johns River Water Management District.

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Labeled as “South Campus” in water management district documents, the expansion will link to the factory at Exploration Park, a publicly accessible region just west of KSC’s main gate. The two-lane Space Commerce Way winds through the area, connecting others like satellite company OneWeb, economic development agency Space Florida and the main entrance to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The south campus will nearly double the size of land Blue Origin already leases from NASA, enabling the Bezos-led company to establish “programs complimentary to those constructed on the adjacent North Campus,” according to SJRWMD documents. Blue Origin plans to build 322-foot New Glenn rockets in the massive blue-and-white factory on the north campus, which will launch no sooner than late 2022.

Blue Origin declined comment, referring to the permitting documents.

“The facilities will provide for the manufacture and provisioning of commercial space launch vehicles,” the permit application says. “The proposed improvements shall include site development for three proposed buildings (Chemical Processing Facility, Manufacturing Factory A and Warehouse Expansion A) and shall include earthwork preparations for near future facilities.”

The site improvements will include “earthwork, grading and drainage improvements, drives, aprons, auto parking lots, launch vehicle egress drives, utility installations, storm sewer collection systems, fire protection systems, landscaping, site lighting improvements, and grass stabilization,” the permit application says.

Blue Origin leased the land from NASA for 50 years for $20.3 million, according to the final lease signed in December 2018.

The private rocketry company founded in Kent, Washington, in 2000 is bankrolled by Bezos, the world’s second-richest person. Blue Origin’s technology isn’t just limited to its own missions. Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance will use the company’s BE-4 engines for its Vulcan series of rockets.

The private rocketry company founded in Kent, Washington, in 2000 is bankrolled by Bezos, the world’s second-richest person. Blue Origin’s technology isn’t just limited to its own missions. Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance will use the company’s BE-4 engines for its Vulcan series of rockets.

“There are no wetland impacts included in the proposed project,” the permitting documents say.