Jeff Bezos’ focus on space sparks questions

Image: Jeff Bezos
Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and one of his Blue Origin rockets. (Blue Origin Photo)

While Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates spends billions of dollars a year on global health, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is spending $1 billion on his Blue Origin space venture — and some folks have a problem with that.

The issue is coming to the fore in the wake of Bezos’ comments last week that Blue Origin represents “the most important work that I’m doing,” and is funded with billions of dollars of his personal wealth.

Bezos sees his share of Amazon’s success as the equivalent of “lottery winnings” that currently translate to an estimated net worth of $130 billion, making him the world’s richest individual.

“The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel,” Bezos said last week during an Axel Springer award ceremony in Berlin. “That is basically it. Blue Origin is expensive enough to be able to use that fortune. I am liquidating about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin. And I plan to continue to do that for a long time.”

That sentiment is in line with Bezos’ long-held passion to pioneer the space frontier by making it possible for millions of people to live and work in space. He’s gotten used to acknowledging that the main reason for starting up Amazon was to get the money to fund space development.

But as last week’s comments became widely distributed, they attracted pushback from folks who pointed out concerns closer to home.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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