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Amazon CEO chooses nowhere for space program

Jeff, there's a tumbleweed in your thruster

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Amazon.com's wealthy CEO Jeff Bezos has picked an unlikely home for his space exploration start-up.

Van Horn, Texas will serve as the headquarters for Blue Origin, which is Bezos' new company dedicated to creating a suborbital spaceship. The city of around 2,000 residents is located in spacious western Texas somewhat near El Paso. Other than the wondrous Big Bend National Park, West Texas is best known for oil wells, tumbleweeds and paper-flat plains. It's hardly the type of region one would confuse with a cutting edge technology hub.

Bezos this week revealed Blue Origin's plans to the Van Horn Advocate. While the company has a Seattle-based design team, it will construct a craft testing and operations center on Corn Ranch - Bezos' property just north of Van Horn, the paper reported. Blue Origin will build an engine test platform and storage tanks for fuel and water on the site with hopes to start flying within six years.

“Blue Origin’s facilities could help make West Texas a center for private, space-related activities," Bezos told the paper.

NASA's mission control is located about 600 miles away in Houston.

Bezos is just one of many tech millionaires that has joined the new space race. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen funded SpaceShipOne, which won the $10m X-Prize in October. Armadillo Aerospace, headed by id Software's John Carmack, also operates in Texas.

Blue Origin is searching for a number of engineers to push its space endeavors forward. Could West Texas become the Space Plateau and replace Silicon Valley as the home of US innovation?

Check out the Van Horn Advocate's scoop here. ®

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