Capitalism in space: According to SEC filings, Jeff Bezos this week sold $2.4 billion in Amazon stock, adding to all his increasing stock sales in recent years.
Bezos said in 2017 that he was selling $1 billion a year to fund his Blue Origin space venture, but he has been increasing the size and frequency of the stock sales recently. He sold more than $7 billion last year. This is his first stock sale of 2021.
By my count of all his sales since 2017, Bezos has raised about $12 billion in cash. Of this, he has said that he wants to spend $10 billion on fighting “climate change,” as well as at least $1 billion per year on Blue Origin.
One way or the other, Blue Origin has far more cash available to it than SpaceX. Too bad Bezos’ company has done so little with it in the past four years. Four years ago the company was truly a viable competitor to SpaceX, though behind it in the curve. Then Bezos hired a new CEO, Bob Smith, to run the company. The development pace slowed to a crawl as the company shifted gears from using Bezos’ money to fund development to trying to obtain government money instead. That shift forced Blue Origin to bow to government demands, which in turn slowed development of their New Glenn orbital rocket. The company also took the big space approach toward development of its lunar lander, pausing all real design and construction until it won the NASA contract. This made it less attractive a bid, which is one reason SpaceX’s Starship won the contract instead.
In addition, the company ended the many and frequent test flights of New Shepard that had been occurring, slowing the pace to about one launch per year.
In that time Blue Origin lost so much ground that it will now be difficult, but not impossible, to catch up. Maybe these cash sales by Bezos is to give him the capital to catch up. I hope so. We need real competitors to SpaceX.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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