Blue Origin Highlands Ranch (9).JPG

Alan Shepard’s daughter Laura Shepard Churchley and NASA Astronaut Mike Good, now with Blue Origin, were at opening of the company’s Colorado office in Highlands Ranch. Good flew two NASA Space Shuttle missions, and Churchley took a New Shepard flight to space late last year. Blue Origin’s 36,000 square foot offices are in Highlands Ranch’s Lucent Campus.

Blue Origin, the space company founded by Amazon Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos, opened an expansion office in Highlands Ranch Friday.

The Colorado operation would be involved in all of Blur Origin’s ventures, including the New Shepard rocket that has already carried 31 people to outer space over the past year, said Laura Maginnis, a company vice president and its Denver area site leader.  

On hand to celebrate the opening were Colorado's public policy leaders, who expressed pride in the new aerospace arrival.

“I think this (opening) shows what we can deliver,” Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas told The Denver Gazette, adding that she viewed Douglas County’s average education level as a major draw for Blue Origin.

Blue Origin marched out two genuine astronauts for the event in the Lucent Campus in Highlands Ranch: Mike Good, who flew two NASA missions on the space shuttle and who is now Blue Origin’s Director of Crew Integration, and Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of America’s first astronaut Alan Shepard, who took a ten-minute New Shepard flight to space last December.

Earlier this month, the future of the New Shepard flights suffered a setback when an un-crewed cargo version on the rocket suffered an explosive event 65 seconds after launch, causing the capsule’s emergency escape rocket to fire it away from the booster. The capsule landed on its regular parachutes, but the booster was destroyed, and the FAA grounded the craft pending an investigation.

Good said he couldn’t comment on the causes of the mishap, or even whether it involved a failure in New Shepard’s BE-3 engine.

“I’m confident in the investigation team, they’re working through the process,” he said, adding that he expects a solution to emerge.

Sign Up For Free: Denver AM Update

Your morning rundown of the latest news from overnight and the stories to follow throughout the day.

Success! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

The next rocket on Blue Origin’s agenda is the New Glenn, a larger ship being prepared for testing that would carry payloads into low earth orbit. It has an upper stage engine similar to the BE-3, Good confirmed.

Churchley raved about her flight on New Shepard, including the three-G acceleration following liftoff.

“It reminded me of when I would drive with daddy in his Corvette and he would floor it,” she said.

Blue Origin’s Maginnis said the arrival marked a new chapter in Denver’s history as an aerospace hub, dating back to the mid-1950s when Martin Marietta began developing the Titan rocket at its plant in Waterton Canyon, later to power NASA’s Gemini missions.

Maginnis introduced her mother and father, noting that her dad had spent his career with Martin and other space companies and that, as a girl, he had given her a chance to see photos from the Voyager missions to Jupiter and Saturn.

“She saw them and that was the trigger,” Jim Maginnis told The Denver Gazette.

Joan Maginnis said that after the youngster became interested in rockets, the couple sent her off to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.

“It’s a real source of pride to us,” Jim Maginnis added, noting their daughter’s role at Blue Origin.