Jeff Bezos sells $3 billion more in Amazon stock

Jeff Bezos this week sold another $3 billion in his Amazon stock, bringing the sales this year along to more than $7 billion.

Amazon stock has soared since mid-March as millions of customers rely on the e-commerce giant amid the pandemic for online shopping, cloud computing, and more. Last week the company posted $88.9 billion in revenue, up 40% from the year-ago quarter, with profits far ahead of Wall Street expectations at $5.2 billion.

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. He sold $2.8 billion worth of Amazon stock a year ago, and around $4 billion earlier this year.

Since 2017 Bezos has now raised more than $11 billion from sales of his Amazon stock. Initially he had said such sales were to finance his space company Blue Origin, but more recently he has indicated he wants to use the bulk of this cash to fight climate change, with portions also devoted services for the homeless and early childhood education.

In fact, it appears that Blue Origin is likely getting only a very small portion of this money, though at several billion this isn’t chicken-feed. At a minimum it likely matches what SpaceX has raised through private investment capital for its Starship/Starlink projects, and more likely exceeds it.

Yet, SpaceX continues to outpace Blue Origin, several times over. If anything, as the cash from Bezos has rolled in Blue Origin’s pace of test flights with New Shepard as well as the development of its BE-4 rocket engine and New Glenn orbital rocket seemed have slowed. Initially New Glenn was going to make its first orbital launch this year. Now they say it will launch next year but we hear little about any development progress. And the company only delivered a test engine of the BE-4 (not flight worthy) to ULA only about a month ago, far later than first promised.

Though the lack of news could simply be Blue Origin’s more secretive way of doing things, compared to SpaceX, I have my doubts. Rockets are big things, and building and testing them is not something easily kept under wraps, especially by private companies. The lack of news from Blue Origin continues to suggest that simply having lots of money does not necessarily guarantee success.

Bezos sells another $1.8 billion in Amazon stock

Capitalism in space? Jeff Bezos last night sold just under a million shares of his Amazon stock, earning in cash an estimated $1.8 billion.

Unlike a similar sale of stock by Bezos last April, there is no statement from Bezos about what he intends to use the money for. Then Bezos made it clear that he intended to periodically sell his stock to raise money for Blue Origin and its various space ventures. Today’s sale was the third since he said this, with total earnings from all three sales totaling about $4 billion, and all are likely aimed at funding that space company.

I might have increasing concerns about Blue Origin because of what appears to be a stalled rollout of New Shepard and New Glenn, but with deep pockets such as this, it would be surprising if the company fails to achieve its goals.

Amazon releases more details about proposed Kuiper satellite constellation

Capitalism in space: Amazon on July 4 submitted to federal regulators a more detailed description of its proposed 3,000+ Kuiper satellite constellation.

Amazon’s Kuiper System satellites will have a design life seven years — less than half that of a traditional geostationary communications satellite — and will be launched in five waves, according to a July 4 filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The first wave consists of 578 satellites that would provide internet service in two horizontal coverage bands, one between 39 degrees north and 56 degrees north (roughly from Philadelphia north to Moscow) and another from 39 degrees south down to 56 degrees south (roughly from Hastings, New Zealand, to the top of Great Britain’s South Sandwich Islands in the Atlantic Ocean). The subsequent four waves would fill in coverage to the equator.

Amazon didn’t say when those satellites would launch or what launch vehicle they would use to reach orbit. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, also owns launch company Blue Origin, whose New Glenn orbital rocket is slated for a first launch in 2021.

If Amazon intends to use Bezos’ New Glenn rocket, this system cannot launch prior to 2021, at the earliest, and that means it will likely enter the internet competition with SpaceX and OneWeb late. This is not fatal for Amazon, but it will require them to offer something to their customers that will draw them away from the earlier constellations.

Amazon to build its own giant satellite constellation

Capitalism in space: Amazon has officially joined the race to build own giant satellite constellations for providing internet access worldwide.

[They] plan to put 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit — including 784 satellites at an altitude of 367 miles (590 kilometers); 1,296 satellites at a height of 379 miles (610 kilometers); and 1,156 satellites in 391-mile (630-kilometer) orbits.

In response to GeekWire’s inquiries, Amazon confirmed that Kuiper Systems is actually one of its projects. “Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The competition now includes Amazon, SpaceX, OneWeb, and others, each of which will provide a lot of business for the launch industry. All told, more than 15,000 satellites will need to be launched by these companies before the middle of the next decade.

Google and Amazon patent 1984-style devices that spy on you in your home

Another reason to dump these companies: Google and Amazon have both patented devices that are designed to spy on you at all times in your home.

The description of Google’s devices is particularly vile, and almost matches precisely the spying devices George Orwell created in 1984 that allowed the government to monitor its citizens 24 hours a day.

Google’s patent application outlines how audio and visual signals could be used to better understand a speaker’s mood or medical condition, according to the New York Times. The devices could listen to the ‘volume of the user’s voice, detected breathing rate, crying’. They could also detect a user’s coughing and sneezing.

The same patent applications reveals a device that could ‘recognize a T-shirt on a floor of the user’s closet’ with Will Smith’s face. It could then combine this with a browser history that shows searches for Mr Smith. This would allow Google to ‘provide a movie recommendation that displays, ‘You seem to like Will Smith. His new movie is playing in a theatre near you.’

In a separate patent application, Google describes a device that would give advice to parents for ‘areas of improvement’ such as spending more time with their children at supper. When children are near a drinks cabinet or are in their parents’ bedroom alone, the system may infer that mischief is likely to be occurring’, the patent read. On detecting mischievous behaviour, the smart device could even hand out punishments such as restricting mobile phone use.

Both Google and Amazon have made it clear in the past year that they are are increasingly partisan, strongly leftist with agendas favoring the Democratic Party. You therefore have to be a simpleton to think that this information will never be used by them for political reasons someday.

Some Amazon Echo speakers can be hacked to spy on you

Some of Amazon’s Echo speakers, designed to listen and record conversations if so commanded, can be hacked to record everything and transmit those recordings remotely.

First of all, you have to have actual access to the device to mess with its hardware. Then, you have to make sure it’s either a 2015 or 2016 model, as brand new Echo versions can’t be hacked similarly.

But if these conditions are met, then a hacker can quickly take the Echo’s base apart and load on it custom firmware that will instruct it to record everything spoken around it. That data can then be sent out to a remote server. That’s what Barnes did in his security tests. Hacking a home speaker may be the best way to spy on certain targets, even if this implies infiltrating their homes to actually mess with the hardware.

This is why I want nothing to do with smart machines. The dumber the machine, the better. I see no reason for my speakers, my washing machine, my car, or my stove, to be connected the internet. All such capability provides is a way to cause problems.

Amazon’s 3D printshop opens

The competition heats up: Amazon has opened its first 3D-print shop, where customers can buy 3D printed products.

The store has launched with more than 200 print-on-demand designs. Users can customize items like earrings, pendants, rings and bobble head dolls using a special widget, before having the item 3D-printed and delivered. …

Although users of the store cannot upload and print their own designs, it is, as mentioned, possible to customize some of the available designs. Amazon has built a customization engine into the store, allowing for very simple changes to an item’s design, or more wholesale changes. Interactive 3D preview functionality is also provided, with which users can rotate an object and view it from any angle.

What does this story have to do with space exploration? Well, it marks the beginning of a major revolution in manufacturing that will change everything. And since 3D printing is going to be an essential need for future space explorers, having this new industry prosper and grow can only speed up the exploration and settlement of the solar system.