A private spaceflight company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to build a powerful new rocket engine in Alabama for space flight, the company and state officials announced Monday.
Blue Origin President Robert Meyerson said his company is seeking a production contract with United Launch Alliance, a private company that provides satellite launches for the U.S. government and others.
He said the company will locate a production factory for the BE-4 rocket engine in Huntsville upon a contract being signed.
According to the company’s website, the powerful BE-4 engine is designed to end dependence on Russian-built engines for launching payloads into space.
‘Alabama is a proven leader in aerospace manufacturing with the highest-skilled workforce, business climate and leadership that we need to produce low-cost rocket engines that we need to protect the nation, (and) explore the universe,’ Meyerson said at a news conference in Huntsville.
Blue Origin is considered a leading contender for the contract after it and ULA entered into a partnership last year with the U.S. Air Force to develop a new rocket propulsion system to power Vulcan, ULA’s new rocket designed to carry heavy payloads into space.
The BE-4 engines are undergoing rigorous certification at Blue Origin’s West Texas-based test site until the rocket is ready for its first tests in 2019.