Today's Wall Street Journal has an excellent front page, above the fold article by Mylene Mangalindan about Van Horn and its relationship with Jeff Bezos, the owner of Blue Origin (subscription required, e-mail me if you want access to the article). A couple of weeks ago, when I visited Van Horn and Blue Origin's spaceport, I told my source in Van Horn that the town was famous. I don't think he knew what to make of the comment. But it will sink in eventually, what with being mentioned so prominently in the second largest newspaper in the U.S.
Mangalindan captures well a couple of aspects of Van Horn that I discussed in my trip report. It doesn't take long in town to get the sense that Van Horn is full of people who value their privacy and property rights. They must be curious about their neighbor, but they also probably think that if he wants to be left alone on his ranch, then they should leave him alone, so long as what he does isn't a violation of the community's sense of right and wrong. Small towns have very different community dynamics than even small cities.
Another aspect is that Blue Origin is secretive with the locals and is continuing to buy land around its facilities in order to secure the area. But being secretive with the locals in this area may prove to be counterproductive. For a prime view of a Blue Origin launch, all you have to do is pull up in your car or RV and park along Route 54. Rocket launches are very public events. Is the community going to accept Blue Origin security shooing people away from Route 54, or having the local authorities do it? I doubt it.
We may get a better idea about how they will handle things, since Blue Origin is expected to have the first flight at its spaceport sometime this weekend.