Bezos Launch Puts Tiny West Texas Town of Van Horn in the News
Van Horn is basically a wide spot on Interstate 10 about 100 miles southeast of El Paso, but with Jeff Bezos blasting off into space and having his launch pad located close by, Van Horn is now a common name on the lips of Americans.
According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Bezos bought the patch of land that his spaceport is located on in 2005 and the main launchpad was completed in 2014 for his rocket, New Shepard, and is the same launchpad and rocket he blasted off into space from today (July 20, 2021).
He has since added other facilities for engine testing, rocket housing, and a training facility.
The lounge where Bezos waits to board his spaceship is also there known as Astronaut Village.
Blue Origin has built a 48-unit apartment complex on Van Horn's main thoroughfare as well as 12 single-family houses.
These houses and apartments are the homes for the newest residents of Van Horn, all who are well paid, highly educated employees of Blue Origin all from out-of-state.
Several of the employees have joined the school board, town council, and volunteer fire department.
Blue Origin has mostly kept the town isolated from their business. None of the 275 full time employees of the spaceport are from Van Horn and citizens don't know a lot about what goes on at Blue Origin and if they ask, they are told the employees are under nondisclosure agreements.
“Almost anyone that works there is very closed-mouthed,” says Jon Means, who runs the Means Ranch, south-east of Van Horn in Jeff Davis County. “You ask them where they ate lunch and they'll hardly tell you.”
According to Means, Blue Origin has caused Van Horn to change demographically.
Where they once qualified for help from the state on infrastructure like roads and water tanks, now they are ineligible for those grants because of the high-paid staff.
But even with that, the town was excited before today's launch and since they couldn't make it to the launch site to watch live and in person, they got to see it on TV.