Where in West Texas is Blue Origin?
Blue Origin has a suborbital launch facility known as Launch Site One. It is located in the West Texas region, 25 miles north of the town of Van Horn at 31.39700621759836, -104.74726846722889. wikipedia.orgBlue Origin facilities
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21 July, 2021 - 05:10am
21 July, 2021 - 05:10am
21 July, 2021 - 05:10am
21 July, 2021 - 05:10am
20 July, 2021 - 08:53pm
5:06 PM on Jul 20, 2021 CDT
Roy Blanchard, 81, and his son drove from Lubbock and stopped along State Highway 54. He was so excited to witness history that, “I forgot my binoculars.”
“So all I saw was the blast-off and, you know, the dust rose up and there was a vapor trail, and the wind was zigzagging,” said Blanchard, whose brother lives in Dallas. “I now have something to talk to friends and family about. That’s history, I suppose, and it happened right here in Texas.”
Blanchard and dozens of other people watched the launch of the first manned Blue Origin rocket on Tuesday a few miles away from Launch Site One, which is 24 miles outside of Van Horn. The latest liftoff in the commercial space race came on the 52nd anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s 1969 moon landing.
On board the rocket, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, became the richest man to go to space. With him were his brother, Mark; female aviation trailblazer Wally Funk, a Grapevine resident who at 82 is now the oldest person to get there, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, the son of a hedge fund billionaire from the Netherlands who is now the youngest.
Blue Origin provided a live feed that was streamed by many news outlets, although some used a time delay. It was accompanied by a running commentary from the company that included reminders that potential customers could call a phone number to buy a future ticket to space. Daemen was the first paying customer in Bezos’ business venture.
Hundreds of space fans gathered throughout the Van Horn area to watch the launch. Some pulled off on the side of the highway and stared at the clear skies as the launch time neared. Others stood in the streets glued to their cellphones to watch. Still more headed to a school auditorium to watch history.
It was a picture-perfect voyage for the New Shepard rocket, which roared past the edge of the sky before both the launch vehicle and the RSS First Step space capsule safely returned to Earth, landing separately a few minutes later.
Families like the Marquezes and Urquidezes from the Dallas-Fort Worth area stopped on Interstate 10 to watch in awe. Unable to find rooms in Van Horn, the families stayed in Midland, got up at 4:30 a.m. and drove to Van Horn with about five minutes to spare.
“It was amazing, awesome,” said Angelique Urquidez, who drove from the Fort Worth region with family and friends. She timed her travel to the minute to see the liftoff. “Something we’ll never forget.
“It’s just exciting to know that we had the oldest and youngest person going up in flight with the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos,” she added. “I wanted them [her family] to witness history.”
At a news conference later in the day, Bezos spoke from the heart about his experience. “How I felt — oh my God. My expectations were high and they were dramatically exceeded,” he said.
Bezos founded Blue Origin 20 years ago. The company says it now has about 275 employees in West Texas. There are an additional 50 contractors onsite providing support services ranging from catering to maintenance.
That’s been crucial to the health of Van Horn. Locals on Tuesday particularly watched closely for signs of Bezos’ long-term commitment to their region.
Bezos called Van Horn “a small and amazing little town, and you know we’re making a dent in it, and we appreciate you for allowing us to be part of your town,” he said during his remarks.
“He came off as genuine,” said Marta Corrales, 75. “I do wish he’d spent some money in our town, though. As you can see, we’re a very friendly, welcoming community, but also a very poor one.”
Some see Bezos’ landmark flight as crucial in helping change a pervasive narrative that portrays Van Horn and other communities along the border as unruly, overrun by criminals and besieged by migrants.
“Space tech and solar technology can really shift the narrative in border communities,” said Jennifer Clemente, an IBM employee who drove from Austin to see the launch. “That will be so key in the years to come.”
Gilda Morales, a county commissioner and editor of the weekly Van Horn Advocate, added: “Politicians prey on whipping up fear about us, the places we live. But these billionaires see opportunity, a last frontier in the borderlands. I find that interesting.”
About Bezos’ public appearance, Morales said: “He was the most animated and interactive that I’ve ever seen him, and he came across as quite likable.”
She applauded Bezos for starting a foundation to reward civility and leadership. At the end of a news conference, Bezos handed out $200 million in charitable donations as part of a new philanthropic initiative, the “Courage and Civility Award.” The first two winners were CNN political analyst Van Jones and celebrity chef José Andrés.
But, adding a bit of perspective, Morales said: “Our water system could be fixed with a mere $12.5 million, but it’s his money, his decision on how to spend it.”
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20 July, 2021 - 06:26pm
Against the backdrop of the Guadalupe Mountains, people traveled from every corner of Texas just to catch a glimpse of Blue Origin’s first human launch to space.
In the small community of Van Horn, banners, murals and signs welcomed visitors and journalists from across the country.
Despite state troopers shutting down the highway near the launch site, by sunrise Tuesday cars, trucks, and RVs lined Highway 54 north of Van Horn, as people tried to get as close as possible.
A life-long space enthusiast, who dreamed of being an astronaut, Monique Caceres drove from Houston with her boys.
“Just to be as close as we can,” Caceres said. “We didn’t know what we [would] see and this was really cool.”
James Pacheco said he couldn’t miss something like this happening in his ‘backyard.’
He drove in overnight from El Paso.
“It’s one thing to read about it – I’m a life-long space nut, but to actually see it in person – it’s completely something else,” Pacheco said.
For James Radcliffe of Dallas, it was a bucket list moment.
“I’d been wanting to see a rocket launch since the 60s when I was kid,” Radcliffe said. “I think being close to events like this is important, anybody can watch it on TV and get a better view, but being there and taking your own pictures, videos. That’s the cool part and just saying I was there.”
From the highway, there was cheering and celebration upon seeing the first fiery glow of the rocket launching off into space. The roar of the rocket could be heard long after it was out of sight.
Two sonic booms caught some by surprise.
Applause erupted again when the parachute was first spotted bringing the capsule and its four-person crew back to earth.
Sharing the moment with her children made Caceres emotional.
“That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Caceres said. “That just makes you realize – never give up on your dreams.”
For many parked there along the highway it was a moment of hope.
“Despite all the bad things that happen out in the world, ya know, that’s just a sign that we can come together as a species as one,” Pacheco said.