MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - Blue Origin is growing its presence near NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
In addition to the new 750,000-square-foot New Glenn rocket assembly facility at Exploration Park, just outside the space center, Jeff Bezos's company entered an agreement last month to build an additional rocket testing and refurbishment facility. The agreement was approved last month during a Space Florida board of directors meeting.
Space Florida is Florida's spaceport authority and manages Exploration Park in Merritt Island.
Dale Ketcham, Space Florida vice president of government and external relations, said as part of the agreement the Florida Department of Transportation will reimburse Blue Origin up to $4.4 million for infrastructure costs, which includes roads to and from the facility. The money will not be in a lump sum, but as Blue Origin construction is underway the company will submit invoices to Space Florida.
The $60 million facility will be constructed on the same lot as Blue Origin's rocket facility. It will be the second largest building in Exploration Park -- the first is Blue Origin's 750,000-square-foot facility.
The rocket testing and refurbishment facility will create approximately 50 jobs, paying an estimated annual salary of $75,000, including benefits, said Ketcham.
Ketcham estimated Blue Origin will build the facility within the next few years.
Blue Origin is expected to start launching its fully reusable New Glenn rocket from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 2020. The New Glenn rocket factory at Exploration Park, about 10 miles form the launch pad, will also serve as mission control.
Some of those launches could be to the moon in the next five years.
Earlier this week, Blue Origin announced it is partnering with the European Space Agency, Airbus and other companies for an international "Moon Race" competition, encouraging groups to develop sustainable technology for a lunar base.
The New Glenn and Blue Origin's lunar lander, Blue Moon, will transport the winning entries to the lunar surface as soon as 2024.
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