The US-born software developer who developed the Blue Origin capsule that took humans to space is now the only US-flagged company selling its own parts to South Korea, which hopes to use them to make its own rocket engines.
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, who is a staunch supporter of President Moon Jae-in, has been promoting the services Blue Origin’s two commercial space missions to the world’s third-largest economy since taking over Blue Origin in 2016.
Bezos is now buying up a growing number of US-origin parts from American companies, which are trying to scale up their business models.
Blue Sun’s American operations, however, are still under US government oversight and could face legal action if they export parts to other countries, such as South Korea.
But Blue Origin is trying to make the US-to-South Korea business model work, and the company has launched a series of initiatives in recent months to expand the number of products it can export to South Koreans, including a new product called Blue Sun.
“We’re getting more and more attention from South Korea in the US,” said Blue Sun founder and CEO Tom Wunder, who added that the company had seen a steady increase in orders.
“A lot of the customers are looking to expand our service, which is what we’ve been doing since day one.”
Blue Sun is already the most-featured US-branded supplier of Blue Origin parts to the South Korean market, which Bezos has been trying to tap into with the launch of a new US-built vehicle that can be used on commercial flights.
Blue-Sun has been providing Blue Origin with parts since it was founded in 2007, and has become one of the most successful companies in the aerospace industry after launching the first two US-owned rockets, the SpaceShipTwo and CST-100 Starliner.
Blue Sky is now shipping around 200,000 parts a month to South Korean customers, mostly Boeing Co’s 737 MAX rockets.
But it is also selling parts to aerospace firms including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney, which make engines for Blue Origin vehicles.
The American company also offers components to the European Space Agency, which uses Blue Sun parts for its space telescope project.
The South Korean government has invested heavily in the American aerospace industry, investing in the company’s first rocket engine in 2018 and its second rocket in 2019.
Blue Star, the company behind the Blue Moon rocket, says it currently has a customer list of more than 100,000 customers, and its stock has risen by more than 200 percent in the past year.
The US has seen a surge in orders from South Korean suppliers, as Bezos seeks to tap the South’s burgeoning aerospace sector and become a major supplier to the country.
US exports of South Korean-made aircraft engines to South America and the Caribbean have increased in recent years, but the South Koreans are still one of America’s most significant suppliers to the region.
Last year, Blue Origin shipped around 1,000 Blue Moon engines to the Republic of the Marshall Islands for its Starliner rockets, and a US Senate committee voted to lift restrictions on US exports to the island nations.
US aerospace companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the Air Force Research Laboratory are also increasingly turning to South-based aerospace companies for their work in the military space programs.
The Air Force is developing the first fully reusable spacecraft, and Blue Origin has also been working on a new generation of rocket engines for its CST-50 rocket, which it hopes to fly in 2020.
Blue Moon’s US-produced engines are being tested on the International Space Station by SpaceX, which has launched several Blue Moon missions and has been looking to use Blue Moon parts to make rocket engines from its own rockets.
Blue Dragon’s US business is also expanding.
The company last year began shipping Blue Moon and CST rocket engines to Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done in the next few years to build our supply chain and improve our relationship with our suppliers,” Wunder said.
“But we’re excited to work with our partners to grow our business and continue to offer products to the American market.”