In the News

New opportunities for the aerospace industry are taking flight in Wichita

KSN | Hunter Funk

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – New opportunities for the aerospace industry are taking flight in Wichita. On Wednesday, Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran toured several facilities with a company that could make a big impact on the economy.

The company Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is an innovative aerospace manufacturer that builds reusable launch vehicles, rocket engines, and is a significant partner with the United States in its efforts to remain a leader in the space domain.

The company manufactures New Shepard, a rocket you’ll see take off and go to space on July 20. 

Blue Origin CEO Dr. Bob Smith toured several Wichita aviation businesses, even sending out a proposal to work with a Wichita company. 

“It’s so important for us to be able to partner commercially with a wide supply base,” said Smith. “I came here for just one reason, and it’s to find out how many suppliers we can actually sign up in Wichita, to actually get more of what we need, because we have so much volume that’s coming with our new Shepherd, our engine production with our new Glen vehicle, and then, hopefully, going back to the moon.”

From suppliers and finishers, Smith said Wichita is the one stop shop with that wide supply base.

Sen. Moran said Blue Origin will help diversify the aviation industry by bringing defense work to Kansas.

“This is a really good development because space is going to be a growing aspect of the spending that’s going to occur in aviation and aerospace,” he said.

Sen. Moran said the company is a significant partner with the United States to remain the leader in the space domain. He said these partnerships would help the smaller businesses grow, like Metal Finish Company.

The Metal Finish Company President Rob Babst said it’s a partnership that he would be grateful to be a part of.

“We have to be competitive, other cities, other communities and other states really want what we have here in Kansas,” said Babst.

The visit showed promise to Smith and to the Kansas economy.

“The goal is trying to bring more work to Kansas, help our companies grow, help them employ more people, and the people who are currently employed to make them more secure,” said Sen. Moran.

“We’re just anxious to have these kinds of partnerships here that are gonna actually take us to that next step, in future, that we have in space,” said Smith.

The company is meeting with several businesses. Sen. Moran said he hopes to learn in the coming weeks about partnerships that may develop.