Tag Archives: Jeff Bezos

Billionaires propose big space plans

At separate interviews given during a media conference held this week in California, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos each expressed their thoughts about what they hope to accomplish in space over the next few decades.

First, Jeff Bezos outlined his belief that, in order to protect the Earth, humanity is going to have to eventually move its heavy manufacturing off the planet and into space. He thought colonizing the planets was a cool idea, but his focus remained with Earth, and using space as a way to protect it.

Musk meanwhile revealed his company’s long range plans for Mars, including their firm intention to send a Dragon capsule to the red planet during every future launch opportunity, beginning with 2018. Each mission will provide information needed to improve and develop their engineering so that they can hopefully send humans there by 2024.

A realistic appraisal of both men’s proposals will quickly recognize that they are probably overly optimistic. Bezos might be right that we should move our heavy industries into space, but he is not realistic to think this can happen soon, or is even possible. Musk’s company SpaceX might be laying the groundwork for the eventual colonization of Mars, but to think it will begin happening by 2024 is unrealistic.

Still, what both men are proposing are things that they are personally helping to make happen. Neither man has to get anyone else’s permission or approval to push these dreams. All they need to do is make sure the products they are building for accomplishing these tasks can also make money by providing services to others. Since this is exactly what both men are doing, they will likely achieve far more than anyone can imagine, even if the specific proposals they are putting forth now do not happen in their lifetimes.

This bright and very possible future is far different than the powerpoint proposals that NASA and big government have offered to us over and over again for the past four decades. Those ideas, while also ambitious, could never happen because they were dependent on the approval of too many other players, Congress, the public, the press, the bureaucracy. They were not founded on profits, so they became a drain on the economy instead of a source of wealth. The result was that we have gone nowhere and developed little new space technology in the years since the last Apollo landing.

Only now, with our renewed reliance on capitalism and profits, are we finally beginning to see the dreams expressed in those NASA powerpoint proposals coming to life. And it isn’t the government that is making them happen, but free individuals, with big dreams and the will to pursue them.

Expect there to be privately funded manned missions to Mars in the next decade. And expect there to be factories in orbit, far sooner than anyone expects.

Jeff Bezos gives a tour of Blue Origin

The competition heats up: Jeff Bezos gave his first tour of Blue Origin’s facilities for eleven journalists on Tuesday.

The article is chock full of interesting details about the company’s plans. To me these details about their New Shepard test program are the most interesting:

“We’re going to fly it until we lose it,” he said. The plan is to test the spaceship many, many times without humans aboard. At some point, Blue Origin will run a test in which the crew capsule will have to blast itself clear from the propulsion module at maximum dynamic pressure – a scenario during which the propulsion module will almost certainly be destroyed.

Not to worry, though: More crew capsules and propulsion modules are already under construction at the factory. “By the time anybody gets on, I think you should be willing to bring your mom,” Bezos said.

They also hope that this test program will proceed to launching humans by 2017.

Bezos gives museum recovered Saturn V engines

Jeff Bezos today personally delivered to the Seattle Musuem of Flight the restored remains of two Apollo Saturn V engines that his company recovered from the ocean floor in 2013.

Over the course of two and a half years, the experts at the museum worked to stabilize the F-1 engine parts, halting the corrosion caused by the salt water. The engines were not restored, however. Rather they were conserved in their “as found” condition to preserve their full history, from the sky to the sea.

In the process, the Cosmosphere was able to reveal and research the parts’ serial numbers and identify the flight history for most of the large parts. The conservators were able to tie the components to the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 missions in 1969 and to Apollo 16 in 1972.

The Apollo 11 components will be donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Next New Shepard test flight expected before December

The competition heats up: Blue Origins has revealed that the next test flight of its suborbital New Shepard capsule and launch rocket will take place before the end of 2015.

They also noted that they will not be selling any tickets for suborbital flights for at least two more years, until they are satisfied that the test flights have proven the system. This is a far cry from other suborbital companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR, who have made big promises to garner ticket sales, and have yet to deliver. Jeff Bezos’s company has instead decided to deliver first, and then sell tickets.

In the end, we shall see who wins the race to put the first tourists into space. What is certain in all this however is that Virgin Galactic has squandered the ten-year headstart it had when it started out in 2004.

In related news, Virgin Galactic says that construction of its second SpaceShipTwo ship is progressing well.

Blue Origin announces it will launch from Florida

The competition heats up: In a press conference today, Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin announced that his company will be making Cape Canaveral, Florida, its launchpad for their planned commercial orbital spacecraft.

Not only will they launch from a former Air Force launch complex, they will be building their production facility there for assembling their reusable ships. Bezos also said that they hope to be flying by the end of the decade.

Jeff Bezos reveals some details about the goals of his space company, Blue Origin.

The competition heats up: Jeff Bezos reveals some details about the goals of his space company, Blue Origin.

Blue Origin is now working on its third version of the New Shepard, which is designed to take everyday people on suborbital journeys. Bezos said that he’s hopeful that this will be the last iteration, and he wants to see the next vehicle ready for commercial operation. “I’m very optimistic about that,” he said. Bezos didn’t give any specific timetables. However, he did say that Blue Origin’s orbital vehicle, designed to send astronauts to the International Space Station and elsewhere, will be tested by 2018. Eventually, the goal is to let anyone fly up into space safely at reasonable prices.

Not a lot of details, but previously we knew practically nothing. That the present ship is being designed for suborbital tourist flights makes it a direct competitor of Virgin Galactic and XCOR. And considering the problems that Virgin Galactic has with SpaceShipTwo, and that XCOR doesn’t have the big bucks of Bezos, Blue Origin might actually be in the lead in the race to put the first tourists in space.

NASA and Jeff Bezos today confirmed that one of the Saturn 5 first stage engines recovered from the ocean floor was from the Apollo 11 launch.

NASA and Jeff Bezos today confirmed that one of the Saturn 5 first stage engines recovered from the ocean floor by Bezos’ expedition was from the Apollo 11 launch.