Amazon CEO Wants to Take Industry to Outer Space
Ashley Allen / 4 years ago
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of online retail giant Amazon, has spoken about the future of Blue Origin, his ambitious astronautics startup. While Elon Musk’s SpaceX has its sights set on colonising Mars, Bezos reveals that Blue Origin’s focus is much broader, and that its strategy will consider the Solar system as a whole. While Blue Origin was founded 16 years ago, this marks the first time that Bezos has spoken publicly about the company and its targets.
“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,” Bezos told The Washington Post (which he owns). “Then I won this lottery ticket called Amazon.com. And so when Amazon became a successful company, I realized, ‘Hey, I can actually fulfill my childhood dreams of starting a space company,’ and that’s what I did.”
While Blue Origin was formed before SpaceX, back in 2000, it has moved much slower than its Musk-helmed rival, seemingly by design. Bezos wanted to dip his toe into the astronautics field to examine whether it was feasible, and he admits that he has stood back to allow Musk to do much of the legwork.
“SpaceX has had to do the heavy lifting in getting the public and getting Congress and others to accept commercial space,” he said.
Blue Origin began with a small staff, but every single employee was driven by an obsessive desire to explore outer space.
“Our hiring bar is unabashedly extreme,” Bezos said. “We insist on keeping our team size small (measured in the dozens), which means that each person occupying a spot must be among the most technically gifted in his or her field. We are building real hardware — not PowerPoint presentations. This must excite you. You must be a builder.”
Blue Origin sees the resources of space as “limitless,” and Bezos wants to see Earth-based industry expanded to nearby planet in our Solar system, leaving Earth as a “residential” planet.
“Sometime in the next few hundred years,” he said, “there will be a big inversion where we will realize that we shouldn’t be doing heavy industry on Earth for two reasons: One, it’s very polluting; and two, we don’t have access to enough energy here do it. It just won’t be practical.”
In the immediate future, Blue Origin is building a new orbital rocket, which it has dubbed “Very Big Brother,” powered by its BE-4 engine, with hopes that it will launch before the decade is out. The company is also seeking to expand, hoping to grow its employee base from 600 to 1,000 over the next 12 months.
“It’ll just be an incredibly fun, inspiring part of humanity’s future to go exploring the solar system,” Bezos added. “Who wouldn’t want to do that? Sign me up.”