Jeff and his rocket nozzle
So many people have dreams of going to space, surrounded by the cosmos, and so close to the planets—those shining, glorious jewels hanging in the black vastness of space—that it feels like we can reach out, grab them, and hold them in the palms of our hands.
So does Jeff Bezos. And lucky for him, he actually has the money to do it. And now we know how the seriously super megarich Bezos, who—did we mention he’s rich?—is planning to help fund Blue Origin.
Bezos will be selling $1 billion of Amazon stock every year, according to the mogul, who announced his plan to fund his space fun during the U.S. Space Symposium this week.
To you and me, $1 billion is unfathomable. But to Bezos, who has a net worth of tens of billions of dollars according to Bloomberg, and is adding money to his vault faster than Scrooge McDuck can swim in it, it’s merely pocket change.
Space travel’s expensive, we hear, especially when you’re rocket’s designed to be ultra swanky. And the company just unveiled its biggest rocket yet, the New Glenn, last fall. They’re also focusing on missions to the moon by 2020. That all requires a lot of investment, even if the plan for Blue Origin is also to include space tourism, which it hopes to launch in 2018
As of right now, according to VentureBeat, Bezos owns nearly 81 million shares of Amazon stock, worth about $75 billion based on the company’s current stock price. The cost of the New Glenn project is projected to be about $2.5 billion, though Bezos didn’t note how much, in total, he’d personally be sinking into the project.
Blue Origin, like SpaceX, is focusing on reusability of rockets to help save big money in the long term. SpaceX broke new ground in reflighting a rocket just last week, and the savings will prove to be massive in the long run.
In other words, don’t think Bezos and his team aren’t learning from SpaceX.
Though Bezos and "rival" Elon Musk have been breaking out their measuring tape at times, Bezos himself has noted how competition will help these projects thrive: “From my point of view, the more the merrier. I want Virgin Galactic to succeed. I want SpaceX to succeed. I want United Launch Alliance to succeed. I want Arianespace to succeed, and of course I want Blue Origin to succeed. And I think they all can.”
If anything, Bezos’ vault of gold helps ensure that the growing Blue Origin project won’t face the same budget cuts that NASA’s been dealt throughout its history. It’s his money he’s spending, after all—not yours.
And if that helps get us to the place that Bezos and company want to be—safe, affordable space flight—then more power to him.