Jeff Bezos wants to see the space industry expand to the scale of today’s internet industry, creating a “completely new world.”
And he’s spending quite a bit to make it happen.
The Amazon founder & CEO moreover founded Blue Origin, a reusable rocket company that builds on Bezos’ childhood dreams of space colonization. While the company will one day be a “thriving enterprise,” Bezos joked it’s going to be a long road. One of the company’s rockets, New Glenn, will cost at least $2.5 billion, Bezos said.
“My business model right now for Blue Origin is I sell approximately $1 billion a year of Amazon stock & use it to invest in Blue Origin,” Bezos said.
Bezos appeared on Wednesday at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, where he said he would reveal more details on a rocket his start-up hopes will take paying customers to space by 2018.
He said he’ll apply some of the lessons he learned at Amazon, especially when it comes to bringing down costs & gauging customer demand.
“Of course, we’ll be just as competitive,” Bezos said. “But how do you compete? When people say that an entrant is disruptive in an industry, what they really mean is that customers are adopting that new way. At Amazon we’ve had a lot of inventions that we were very excited approximately & customers didn’t care at all. And believe me, those inventions were not disruptive in any way. The only thing that’s disruptive is customer adoption. If you can invent a better way, & customers believe that’s a better way, then they will use it. And that’s what we’re trying to do at Blue Origin.”
Start-ups like Blue Origin & Elon Musk’s SpaceX have joined more traditional companies in the space race in recent years. But despite his competitive spirit, Bezos said he’s not thinking it of a sprint to the complete line.
“I always remind the team is that we are not racing,” Bezos said. “We are going to test it. We will put humans on this when it is ready & not a second sooner…It’s a mistake to race to a deadline when you’re talking approximately a flying vehicle, especially one you’re going to put people on.”
Bezos said the two companies are actually quite “like-minded in a lot of ways.”
“The whole space industry is too small,” Bezos said. “The reason is, we don’t fly very often. If airplane flights cost the same as in 1940, that would moreover be a small industry today….we need to obtain there.”
Justin Solomon / CNBC
Building rockets that are reusable is the key to getting “millions of people living & working in space,” Bezos said. When rockets are reusable & don’t need much refurbishing, that means the can endure more practice runs. And more practice runs means learning more details that can be used to innovate faster, he said.
“Amazingly, we humans obtain better at everything we practice. And one of the reasons that we haven’t made as much progress in space flight …. over the past 50 years, is that we haven’t been able to practice that much,” Bezos said. “Anything you do a dozen times a year, you never obtain truly tremendous at.”
The company’s New Shepard capsule is designed to feature huge windows to let tourists obtain a taste of space. He said that passengers would ideally need less than a day of training to ride the rockets.
It’s not clear what the ticket prices would be yet, Bezos said, yet he’s “determined” to bring costs down to the level of airplane tickets over time, providing widespread access to the technology.
“Entrepreneurs will be unleashed, you will see creativity, you will see dynamism, you will see the same thing in space that I’ve witnessed on the internet for the past 20 years,” Bezos said.
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