The key to having a private space program, as #Blue Origin’s #Jeff Bezos might say, is to have a mountain of money from another highly successful business venture. Bezos revolutionized retail shopping starting in the 1990s with #Amazon.com to such an extent that many people no longer go to the mall. Why should they when they can point and click and a couple of days later have just about anything waiting on their doorstep? No more parking and jostling crowds. In any case, as Bezos noted in Colorado at the U.S. Space Symposium, he sells $1 billion of Amazon stock a year and plows it into Blue Origin.
He can keep doing so, at recent share prices, for another 73 years. Long before that time, Bezos hopes that his rocket company will be a profit making concern taking millions of people to and from space.
Thus far Blue Origin has flown and reflow the New Shepard suborbital rocket five times. He has rolled out the crew capsule that Bezos hopes to use to fly people on joyrides to the edge of space by early next year. Later, Blue Origin will roll out the orbital New Glenn rocket and start launching satellites and other payloads. Further down the road, the New Armstrong heavy lift rocket will send people and cargo beyond low Earth orbit. Bezos has proposed sending stuff to the lunar surface via a spacecraft he calls Blue Moon, a timely proposal considering that the Trump administration is thinking about a return to Earth’s nearest neighbor.
Blue Origin, more than its rival SpaceX, is a pure commercial space company. While Elon Musk’s company is launching government satellites and cargo ships into space, Bezos’ initial business will be sending the well-heeled and adventurous on suborbital jaunts.
To be sure, he is open to any customer paying for his services. Blue Origin was an also ran in the commercial crew competition which SpaceX and Boeing ultimately won. The orbital New Glenn will try to grab its share of the lucrative satellite market, mostly dominated by NASA, the military, and large, corporate entities. But Blue Origin’s plan to become the Southwest Airlines of space is also out there. Oddly, anyone who buys anything from Amazon is, indirectly, contributing to making that dream take form.