SpaceX made it official last week: The California-based company will build its first commercial spaceport in Texas, spurning overtures from Florida and other launch-minded states.
Although Florida gets the "consolation prize" of SpaceX's government launches at Cape Canaveral, billionaire Elon Musk's company is not the only commercial-launch newcomer Florida has to keep an eye on.
Blue Origin LLC — the brainchild of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos — also has established a facility in western Texas, where it is testing engines and other systems for its New Shepherd launch vehicle. The Kent, Wash.-based company plans to use its Texas complex to launch rockets for suborbital space-tourism and research flights.
Does that mean the Lone Star State has the inside track on capturing Blue Origin's full-scale commercial launches in the future?
Space Florida, the state's space development arm, thinks not.
Space Florida executive Dale Ketcham said the Space Coast is in the thick of the competition for Blue Origin's launch business as it advances to include the lucrative orbital flights, which are in most demand.
"Blue Origin is looking at Florida, Georgia and a few other states where they would set up shop," Ketcham said. "The launch schedule they're talking about makes it pretty clear they are likely to start here, like SpaceX did, where we already have the needed facilities."
Blue Origin has been quietly, secretly working on the New Shepherd system, a reusable vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing vehicle — at its Washington and Texas facilities. The company also has a small staff at Cape Canaveral.
The company has lagged well behind SpaceX — which already has 10 successful Falcon 9 rocket launches on its resume. But Blue Origin is taking a far different tack in pursuing the launch business.
Unlike SpaceX, which uses the Falcon 9 to send cargo capsules to the International Space Station, Blue Origin plans to start out with space-tourism flights.
"Our goal with Blue Origin is to make space travel safer and less expensive so anyone who wants to go can go," Bezos told Forbes.com last week. "We have a great team, and they are making rapid progress towards this goal."
Server firm goes international
Atlantic.Net Inc., an Orlando-based high-speed server management company, has opened its first international information-technology center in Toronto, Canada, the company said.
Coupled with a new center in Dallas, Atlantic.Net's latest expansion is expected to boost the company's global business by providing Web connectivity for companies around the world, officials said.
"We chose Toronto and Dallas because both locations ensure that our customers have a domestic location to provide the highest-quality support," said founder Marty Puranik in a prepared statement.
Atlantic.Net provides an Internet pipeline for thousands of companies across all industries, including health care, banking, telecommunications and e-commerce.
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