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Jeff Bezos launches $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at the Amazon Spheres in 2018. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he’s launching a $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund that will issue grants aimed at addressing climate change — a move that comes less than a month after hundreds of Amazon employees criticized what they saw as the company’s weak commitment to tackling the issue.

Bezos, who’s the world’s richest individual with a net worth estimated at nearly $130 billion, unveiled his philanthropic initiative in an Instagram post.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” he wrote. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.”

He said the first grants to scientists, activists and non-governmental organizations would be issued this summer.

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Alexa, who’s your favorite Star Trek captain?

When the actor who plays the boss’ favorite Star Trek captain drops in at the office, it’s best to agree with the boss. Even though Amazon’s Alexa is just a computerized voice assistant, she clearly understands that much.

That’s basically how things went down today when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos dropped in at the Seattle office where comedy writers come up with bon mots for Alexa … with Patrick Stewart, who plays Captain Jean-Luc Picard, at his side.

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Jeff Bezos announces Blue Moon lander team

Jeff Bezos
m Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos discusses his space ambitions during a fireside chat at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos says his Blue Origin space venture is heading up a team of top space companies — including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper — to build a landing system to take NASA astronauts to the moon as early as 2024.

“This is a national team for a national priority,” Bezos said here at the International Astronautical Congress, where he received the International Astronomical Federation’s first Excellence in Industry Award on Blue Origin’s behalf.

Blue Origin would serve as the prime contractor for the lander project, with its Blue Moon lander serving as the heart of the system.

Bezos said Northrop Grumman, which built the lunar lander for the Apollo program a half-century ago, would be responsible for the orbital transfer vehicle that would take astronauts from a moon-orbiting Gateway platform to a lower lunar orbit.

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Jeff Bezos touts space postcard campaign for kids

Jeff Bezos and kids
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin, checks out some of the postcards submitted for spaceflight as part of his nonprofit Club for the Future campaign. (Jeff Bezos via Twitter)

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a mockup of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander in May, he also unveiled a more down-to-earth enterprise: the Club for the Future, a nonprofit effort aimed at promoting science education through fun space-oriented projects.

Its first project? A campaign to solicit postcards that would be flown into space aboard Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard rocket, and then sent back to the kids who submitted them.

Today in a tweet, Bezos says thousands have responded so far.

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Jeff Bezos touts full-power rocket engine test

Blue Origin engine test
Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine fires at full power during a test in Texas. (Blue Origin Photo)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is showing off a picture of his Blue Origin space venture’s BE-4 rocket engine going full blast during a hot-fire test in Texas.

“BE-4 continues to rack up time on the test stand,” Bezos said in an Instagram post accompanied by a picture of today’s full-power engine test.

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Jeff Bezos sizes up the past and present space race

Caroline Kennedy and Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos checks out a framed facsimile of a note bearing the signatures of three Mercury astronauts, given as a gift by Caroline Kennedy. (JFK Library Foundation Photo / Tom Fitzsimmons)

Back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy said he chose to have Americans go to the moon not because it was easy, but because it was hard. Today, billionaire Jeff Bezos said it’s still hard — and in some ways, it’s even harder than it was in the ’60s.

Bezos, the world’s richest person by virtue of his status as the founder of Amazon and the Blue Origin space venture, laid out his argument during a discussion with the late president’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Today’s “JFK Library Space Summit” was a daylong affair that drew luminaries ranging from Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

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Jeff Bezos explains Amazon’s big bet on satellites

Jenny Freshwater and Jeff Bezos
Amazon’s Jenny Freshwater engages Jeff Bezos in a fireside chat at the re:MARS conference in Las Vegas. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

LAS VEGAS — For the first time in public, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained the rationale for his risky Project Kuiper satellite broadband venture, during a fireside chat that was interrupted when an animal rights activist jumped on stage.

Today’s half-hour discussion was one of the headliner events for Amazon’s inaugural re:MARS conference, held here in Las Vegas to throw a spotlight on the frontiers of Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space. It’s modeled after the invitation-only MARS meeting that Amazon has been organizing annually since 2016.

Bezos and his partner in the fireside chat — Jenny Freshwater, leader of forecasting and capacity planning at Amazon — broadened the focus of the conversation to touch on some of the Amazon CEO’s favorite topics, including his management philosophy and his advice for entrepreneurs.

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Jeff Bezos gets a kick out of robotic arms

Jeff Bezos with robotic arms
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos raises his arms (and the robotic arms they’re linked to) at the re:MARS conference in Las Vegas. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

LAS VEGAS — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ handshake is at least as firm as a robotic hand’s grip.

I found that out for myself today at Amazon’s inaugural re:MARS conference, when Bezos tried out the touch-sensitive, dexterous robotic arm set up in an exhibit hall at the Aria Resort and Casino here in Las Vegas.

Like the annual invitation-only MARS conference, re:MARS is designed to focus on the frontiers of Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space. And robots were the stars of the show when Bezos popped in.

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How the moon figures in Jeff Bezos’ big picture

Jeff Bezos and Blue Moon lander
Jeff Bezos shows off Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander in Washington, D.C. (Blue Origin Photo)

By Todd Bishop and Alan Boyle

It’s our choice: a finite world with limited resources, or an infinite universe with unlimited potential. Those were the options presented by Jeff Bezos this week he laid out his plan to colonize the moon as a first step toward a future with as many as a trillion people in space.

Blue Origin, the Amazon founder’s private space venture, unveiled its Blue Moon lunar lander at an event in Washington, D.C., this week, and said it was working to help the country achieve the Trump administration’s goal of putting U.S. astronauts back on the moon by 2024. Blue Origin is one of multiple companies expected to compete for the NASA contract to go back to the moon.

But a lunar colony would be just the first step in Bezos’ larger aspirations for humans in the solar system.

GeekWire’s aerospace and science editor, Alan Boyle, was there for the announcement, and he called in for this special edition of the GeekWire podcast.

Get the podcast (and transcript) on GeekWire.

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Jeff Bezos updates his vision for Blue Moon lander

Jeff Bezos and Blue Moon lander mockup
Jeff Bezos shows off a mockup of the Blue Moon lunar lander. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos today laid out the architecture for missions to the moon aimed at supporting NASA’s goal of landing astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024.

The game plan for Bezos’ space venture, Blue Origin, calls for continuing work on the company’s Blue Moon lunar lander and a new breed of hydrogen-fueled rocket engine known as the BE-7. Blue Origin has been discussing the lander concept with NASA for years, and plans to propose Blue Moon in response to a solicitation that NASA is due to issue this month.

During today’s invitation-only event here at the Washington Convention Center, Bezos said that sending humans to the moon by 2024 and establishing a permanent lunar settlement would be in sync with his own vision for humanity’s future in space.

“I love this — it’s the right thing to do,” Bezos said. “We can help meet that timeline, but only because we started this three years ago. It’s time to go back to the moon, this time to stay.”

Bezos said Blue Origin already has been in touch with customers who’d be interested in sending payloads to the lunar surface on Blue Moon, including Airbus, Arizona State University, Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PARC, Southwest Research Institute, Britain’s Surrey Satellite Technology and Germany’s OHB.

“People are very excited about this capability,” Bezos said.

The showstopper came when Bezos pulled the wraps off a full-size mockup of the Blue Moon lander. “This is an incredible vehicle, and it’s going to the moon,” he said.

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