According to Jeff Bezos, founder of private space travel company Blue Origin, the first people are expected to reach suborbital heights by 2017.
In a tour of the venture’s R&D site outside Seattle, Bezos said that even though the first to go on the trip won’t be paying customers, thousands of people are eager for the company to take their money and have a seat in the suborbital craft.
At the moment, the founder of Amazon.com is spending the billions he made with the online retailer to purchase high-tech equipment and pay the 600 employees working in a former Boeing airplane parts facility.
The Amazon executive has yet to release the size of his investment in the space venture, but said it “added up to a very significant number.”
Even though it’s still some years away until his company – a childhood dream come true – will start becoming profitable, Bezos said he has faith. Because Blue Origin isn’t taking deposits yet, it’s unclear whether the thousands interested in space travelling will buy the tickets.
Founded in 2000, Blue Origin has launched – and safely landed – a ship twice, and the company plans to keep testing on it until its usefulness is done. Next, it will build other ships to start testing human flight.
But people in space is not where Bezos is putting his money. Apparently, the company is interested in selling rocket engines to other businesses that launch satellites and spaceships.
For example, Blue Origin will be building the engine for the next launch vehicle of United Launch Alliance, so the company won’t rely on Russian-made engines anymore.
Even though he has kept his day job at Amazon, Bezos’ deep involvement at Blue Origin translates in a lot of time spent at the Kent facility, 17 miles outside Seattle.
According to one engineer, Bezos is “as knowledgeable about the technology as anyone in the building,” which was evident during a tour when he enthusiastically talked about technical details with the media.
It was a huge step to let the press visit the Blue Origin For development floor, considering it’s such a media-shy company; still, many of the photographs of the facility were prohibited from being published.
Bezos welcomes any competition in the field of building the next generation of rocket engines; only a handful of other US companies compete in the private space business, such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, both of whom are also at the testing stage.
Image Source: Forbes