Jeff Bezos-founded space technology company Blue Origin officially cut the ribbon to open its new HQ and R&D facility, located in Kent, Wash. — close by to Amazon’s own headquarters. The new facility covers 230,000 square feet and sits on a plot of land over 30 acres in size, and will eventually be the base of operations for around 1,500 Blue Origin employees.
The new HQ is called the O’Neill Building, named after Princeton University physicist Gerard O’Neill. O’Neill is known for his work with NASA in the 1970s, conceiving potential future technology for sustained human presence in space — including the so-called O’Neill cylinders, which are large habitats designed to spin to replicate Earth’s gravity for long-term residents and for on-board agriculture.
Bezos last year discussed making O’Neill’s vision of the future a reality, detailing how the habitats might be able to house as many as a million people on each station, to help establish a new extension of humanity’s home on Earth.
In total, Blue Origin employs more than 2,500 people, including at its facilities in Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Van Horn, West Texas; and Huntsville, Ala. It also plans to open a dedicated engine manufacturing facility in Alabama this March. 2020 should also see Blue Origin fly its first human passengers aboard New Shepard, its sub-orbital rocket, which is currently well along the path to human certification, and it’s looking to next year to begin operating New Glenn, its orbital launch vehicle.