Blue Origin Opens New Headquarters As It Aims For The Moon, Astronaut Flights

Blue Origin opened a new headquarters in Washington State as the company aims to send private astronauts on suborbital space trips later this year.

The facility has capacity for 1,500 people for operations, as well as research and development. Blue Origin expects an active 2020 as it continues to get its suborbital New Shepard spacecraft ready to carry humans, and it works on its uncrewed "Blue Moon" lander to send payloads to the lunar surface. The company has formed a team with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper to build also a crewed lunar lander for NASA's human Artemis program.

"We grew by a third last year, and we're going to continue to grow at a rapid pace," said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith at the ribbon-cutting event, according to a press release issued Monday (Jan. 6). Media reports say that Blue Origin has more than 2,500 employees.

Blue Origin opens its new research and development building and headquarters in Kent, Washington on Jan. 6, 2020. Pictured from left: Washington State Representative Tina Orwall, US Congressman Denny Heck, US Congressperson Adam Smith, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, US Congressperson Derek Kilmer, Washington State Senator Lisa Wellman, Washington State Representative J.T. Wilcox, and Blue Origin COO Terry Benedict. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

"For those of you that are Washington State residents, what is exciting is we're going to be doing all this work from a headquarters based here in Kent," Smith added. "It's a remarkable statement to say that we're going to fly humans to space, we're going to build and design large engines and a large orbital rocket, and we're going to go back to the moon – all through work centered here."

The main hub is called the O'Neill Building after Gerard O'Neill, a physicist who did several studies on human settlements in space. The building is on a 30-acre land plot, which includes 13 acres for wildlife, protection against invasive species, and flood storage.

The private company was founded in 2000 by Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos, who also provided the initial financing. Bezos has continued to provide funding injections to Blue Origin through sales of Amazon stock and equity.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: