COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Amazon’s billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn’t focused on creating America’s biggest online retailer when he was a boy. But he often says that he’s been obsessed with outer space since the age of 5, when he watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.
That means he’s had a lot of time to think about how spaceflight should be done, and what kind of future is in store beyond our home planet. It’s what led him to create a space venture called Blue Origin a decade and a half ago. Now Blue Origin is taking off in a big way, literally: Over the past six months, Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket ship has gone through three successful launch-and-landing tests. People could start taking test flights on New Shepard as early as next year, with paying passengers due to climb aboard in 2018.
At this week’s 32nd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Bezos and I were on stage for a “fireside chat” during which the Amazon CEO discussed his vision for space travel. The “fireside” was purely figurative, but the chat nevertheless sparked some deep thoughts about Blue Origin’s business model, the state of the space industry and humanity’s future on the final frontier.