Blue Origin chose this area for Launch Site One because it provided an open and safe space to test, transport and fly launch vehicles, a Blue Origin representative said.
The extensive launch facility includes a vehicle barn, launch pad and training center. About 10 minutes away is Astronaut Village, a collection of Airstream trailers with a restaurant and bar for those preparing to travel to space.
Van Horn’s economy has long relied on much older forms of transportation; the railroad and Interstate 10 pass through town, making it a hub for day trips to Guadalupe Mountains National Park and McDonald Observatory. But the city is beginning to embrace its new role in the cosmos.
“We’ve started a Facebook page where we share launch announcements,” says Brewster. “And we’re working on an app for this five-county region to highlight points of interest for tourists.”
Van Horn officials meet regularly with Blue Origin, and Brewster says the town would like to have a viewing area for launches. Blue Origin has helped bring more than $1 million back to the community through grants that benefit the school district, food bank and infrastructure, according to Morrissey, who said the company was building an apartment complex and a dozen single family homes in the area. Blue Origin employs 285 people and 50 contractors in West Texas, and some serve on city councils, school boards, and community groups.