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Blue Origin wants to launch rockets from new site outside U.S.

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company is looking to expand its spaceflight business beyond the U.S., the Financial Times (FT) reported on Monday.

Blue Origin was set up by Amazon founder Bezos in 2000. Following years of testing its suborbital New Shepard rocket, the company started using it in 2021 to send paying passengers on trips to the edge of space.

But its ambitions go far beyond sending wealthy space tourists on a 10-minute joy ride from its launch facility in Texas.

Blue Origin chief executive Bob Smith told the FT that the company is now seeking new partnerships and acquisitions in Europe and elsewhere as part of efforts to build out its launch and engine business and compete with the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

It also wants to establish a new launch facility outside of the U.S., though the search for a location is still at an early stage, Smith said.

In other work signaling Blue Origin’s intent on expanding its spaceflight business, the company recently inked a $3.4 billion deal with NASA to build a lunar lander for the space agency’s Artemis program and is developing a new, more powerful rocket called New Glenn that will be used to carry Amazon’s internet satellites to orbit for a project similar to SpaceX’s Starlink service. New Glenn is expected to take its maiden test flight next year.

Blue Origin also has plans to build a privately funded space station, one of several expected to replace the International Space Station when it’s decommissioned in 2031.

As it looks forward, Blue Origin is also dealing with recent setbacks after its New Shepard rocket suffered a failure during a flight in September. The crew capsule was empty, though it ejected from the rocket as designed and made a safe return to Earth. Blue Origin engineers have been investigating the cause and are hoping to launch an unmanned test flight in the coming weeks. If that passes without any issues, New Shepard could begin carrying passengers again a month or two later, Smith confirmed.

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Trevor Mogg
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