When Blue Origin launched its first crewed mission to space on July 20, key parts supplied by Baker Manufacturing Inc. also took flight on the New Shepard. As future missions soar, the Tacoma-based manufacturer will be along for the ride.
The aerospace and composite industry supplier provided thousands of components included on the reusable rocket destined for space tourism, as well as Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket that will be used to put payloads into space. Baker Manufacturing has been a Blue Origin supplier for decades.
“We started by making a widget for them 20 years ago,” said Baker Manufacturing President Tony Baker. “Now we’re contributing to something that’s never been built before.”
Growing to meet demand
Over the years, Baker Manufacturing has strengthened its relationship with Blue Origin and increased technology in its shop to keep up with demand. The company will provide larger quantities of parts as Blue Origin moves toward selling seats for space tourism.
“As a smaller business, we’ve been very agile and able to handle Blue Origin’s needs quickly to meet launch demand,” Baker said.
After outgrowing its space in unincorporated Pierce County, the company opened a new plant in the Port of Tacoma in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. City of Tacoma Community and Economic Development provided relocation support, which included building and permitting assistance, site selection and introductions to local community partners to ensure a smooth transition.
With room to grow in its new location, the company plans to install a new machine that will manufacturer parts up to 20 feet long.
Appreciation for a job well done
In August, representatives from Blue Origin visited Baker Manufacturing to screen a video of the launch for employees and talk about the long relationship between the two companies. They presented Tony Baker with a scaled model of the New Shepard, a frameable document with a historic first-flight patch and a banner to hang in the shop that reads “Blue Origin Proud Supplier.”
“It was an emotional moment for me,” Baker said. “It represented so many years of hard work by the whole team.”