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Public Meeting Details Blue Origin Rocket Plans

A public meeting was held June 14 in Van Horn, Texasas part of a series of steps to gain a governmental okay for Blue Origin tolaunch its rockets. Blue Origin is the Seattle-based company bankrolled by JeffBezos, founder of Amazon.com, to create and launch passenger-carryingspacecraft.

"The publicinformation meetings are part of the environmental assessment process requiredby the FAA," said Gwen Griffin, a spokesperson for the rocket group. "Themeetings are for the public to make comments or ask questions about BlueOrigin's proposal," she told SPACE.com.

A launch operator license must be obtained from the FederalAviation Administration's (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation in Washington, D.C.

Flights to the edge of space

According to reporter Larry Simpson of the Van Horn Advocate in Van Horn, Texas,Blue Origin representatives were in town yesterday to detail the group's rocketplans.

Taking part was Blue OriginProject Manager Rob Meyerson. Also on hand was a representative of the FAA'sOffice of Commercial Space Transportation.

Meyerson said that BlueOrigin intends to focus its efforts on "developing, building and operating aseries of manned launch vehicles, the first of which will take off and landvertically, carrying three or more astronauts to the edge of space."

The newspaper also reportedthat Meyerson detailed why Blue Origin has selected a site in West Texas for its rocket operations. "Texashas been a long-standing leader in the aerospace industry and the geography ofthe West Texas site makes it an ideal place todevelop Blue Origin's launch facility."

Incremental plan

Meyerson said Blue Originanticipates a flight test of its vehicle in the fourth quarter of 2006. Thatliftoff date, however, depends on having both the rocket and launch site ready,he said.

Flight testing is to spanthree to five years before regular commercial flights would start, Meyersonsaid. "During the testing phase, we anticipate launching less than 25 times ayear," the Van Horn Advocate reportedMeyerson as saying.

Launch Operations Managerfor Blue Origin, Ed Rutkowski, also attended the public meeting. He outlined anincremental plan to grow the launch complex - with construction to start earlynext year. The facilities are to be built on privately-purchased landin Culberson County, Texas.

The actual rockets are tobe fabricated in Seattle, Washington. After construction, they will behauled to the Texaslaunch site for launch, Rutkowski said.

Genuinepassion for space

Blue Origin is on the search for willing-to-work rocketeersthat want to help the firm turn paper into flying vehicles.

According to the Blue Origin web site, the company says its "hiringbar is unabashedly extreme, and we insist on keeping our team sizesmall...measured in the dozens. This means the person occupying each and everyspot must be among the most technically gifted in his or her field."

The web site also adds this note:

"You must have a genuine passion for space. Without passion,you will find what we're trying to do too difficult. There are much easierjobs. You must want to work in a small company. We are building real hardware--notPowerPoint presentations. This must excite you. You must be a builder."

Specialthanks to Larry Simpson of the Van HornAdvocate for assisting in this article.

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