How Blue Origin builds on Amazon’s success

Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos
Blue Origin’s billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, peers out the window of a New Shepard crew capsule mock-up. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos has long said that he’s using his personal fortune to fund his Blue Origin space venture, and today he hinted at just how many billions of dollars he intends to spend.

“My business model right now for Blue Origin is, I sell about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock, and I use it to invest in Blue Origin,” he told reporters here at the 33rd Space Symposium. “So the business model for Blue Origin is very robust.”

Bezos threw out the figure half-jokingly, after noting that he typically doesn’t reveal how much he’s spending. But he made clear that his in-house space effort, headquartered in Kent, Wash., takes a noticeable chunk out of his estimated $78 billion fortune.

He said the development cost for Blue Origin’s New Glenn orbital launch system, which should be taking off from a Florida launch facility by 2020 or so, is likely to be on the order of $2.5 billion.

And then there’s the New Shepard suborbital rocket ship, which has successfully flown to space and back five times during uncrewed test flights launched from Blue Origin’s West Texas facility. The space-flown booster and a mock-up of New Shepard’s crew capsule are on display this week at the Space Symposium.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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