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Senator Nelson Visits Blue Origin, OneWeb Manufacturing Facilities

Blue Origin's rocket manufacturing facility. Photo: Brendan Byrne (08/09/2017)
Blue Origin's rocket manufacturing facility. Photo: Brendan Byrne (08/09/2017)

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson was on Florida’s Space Coast Wednesday checking out the growth of the private space industry.

The Democrat toured Blue Origin’s rocket manufacturing facility just south of Kennedy Space Center. The private space company, headed by Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, plans to build a rocket that can launch heavy payloads into orbit from Cape Canaveral.

Nelson has been meeting with private space industry leaders in Senate hearings. He said the ability to streamline launches attracts companies that build spacecraft, as well as launch them, to the area. The FAA, Air Force and commercial partners are developing and utilizing autonomous safety measures for launches which decreases the turnaround time between flights. That, said Nelson, is a draw to Florida's Space Coast.

"We are seeing the true space complex for the United States is being recreated right here in Brevard County," he told reporters at Blue Origin's Brevard facility.

“What is happening here is you’re getting it soup to nuts," said Nelson. "The Cape is coming alive. The Cape is not just a launch facility, it is a manufacturing facility as well."

Nelson also visited OneWeb Satellites - a company planning to build and launch up to 2,000 satellites into orbit to blanket the globe with broadband internet service.

The Blue Origin facility opens later this year and Bezos wants to launch the new rocket by the end of the decade.

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to Central Florida in 2005 to attend the University of Central Florida. He began working at WMFE as a college intern where he discovered his love for public radio.