Long before he ever conceived the idea to sell books on the Internet, he was obsessed with space.
“I wanted to start a space company from when I was a little kid, but I never expected to have the resources to do so,” Jeff Bezos told a small group of reporters invited to tour his center.
His space company, Blue Origin, Blue for the “Pale blue dot” that is Earth; “Origin” for where humanity began, is now, some 16 years after its founding, showing tangible signs of progress.
For the first time, Bezos opened the doors of the company he has kept quiet for years and talked openly and at length about its vision, the day “When millions of people are living and working in space.”
Over the course of more than four free-wheeling hours, he spoke on the future of space tourism and why increased energy consumption is driving space exploration.
He talked about how space will be a viable business and why Mars is for only the “Very adventurous,” making Antarctica look like “a garden paradise.” And then he discussed what he called “The big inversion”- how he predicts that all heavy industry will move off Earth into space, where there are limitless resources so that Earth could be preserved.
SpaceX has charged ahead, passing milestone after milestone with its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, which became the first private one to visit the International Space Station.
SpaceX’s success has helped touch off a renaissance in the commercial space industry, including Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which, like Blue Origin, promises to take tourists to space, said Greg Autry, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.
In the first few years after Bezos founded the company in 2000, it was just him and a handful of employees trying to see if there was a better way to launch humans into space.
“You must have a genuine passion for space,” the company’s jobs page said.
Launching from the company’s site in West Texas, it reached Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, and soared 58 miles high, near what is considered the edge of space.
This time, it passed the boundary of space, and it also was able to land the first stage of its rocket back on land.
Bezos is famous for taking the long view with his ventures, moving methodically and relentlessly toward his uncompromising vision.
It is an involved piece of art, loaded with symbols from the Earth to the stars to the velocities needed to reach various altitudes in space.
The rocket company created by Jeff Bezos has built a rocket that has vertically landed on Earth after flying above the Karman line twice.
Bezos’s solution is to “Spread out into the solar system” to mine the “Limitless” resources in space.
In the near term, he said, space tourism is a logical first step to democratizing space, a way to practice flying over and over, a key component to the company’s goal of lowering the cost of spaceflight.
On the tour, he showed off a couple of capsules under construction and the seats, similar to chaise lounges that would be reclined by massive windows offering a view of Earth from space from pilotless rockets.
The first test pilots could fly as soon as next year, Bezos said, with ticketed passengers booking space flights in 2018.
A model of the Starship Enterprise from “Star Trek” greets visitors in the lobby, where there are a combination model rocket and mini lounge outfitted with comfortable couches and bookshelves filled with titles such as “From the Earth to the Moon,” and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Underneath is a fire pit, making it seem as if flames were shooting from the bottom of the rocket.