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Space Businesses

Amazon's Jeff Bezos Sets His Sights on the Stars 123

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the space-company-fad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Yahoo News is reporting that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is looking to open a 'rocket-ship complex' for his new startup Blue Origin early next year. From the article: 'Blue Origin has released few details about the project. But a Texas newspaper editor who interviewed Bezos earlier this year said the billionaire talked [about] sending a spaceship into orbit that launches and lands vertically, like a rocket, and eventually building spaceships that can orbit the Earth -- possibly leading to permanent colonies in space.'"
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Amazon's Jeff Bezos Sets His Sights on the Stars

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  • heheh (Score:1, Funny)

    by Keyframe2 (940074)
    so amazon will have shipment to space? and cargo could be people?? nice :) DHL stock should rise on this one
    • Re:heheh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lead Butthead (321013)
      so amazon will have shipment to space? and cargo could be people?? nice :) DHL stock should rise on this one
      Note that they do not guarantee the cargo hold is heated or pressurized, so I wouldn't ship anything with their service that does not react well to extreme cold or hard vacuum.
  • ok (Score:3, Funny)

    by ikea5 (608732) on Monday December 26, 2005 @07:00PM (#14341606)
    I guess all his money is really disappearing into thin air.
    • "money disappearing into thin air"

      Exactly, see the difference between smart rich people like Gates, Jobs and these fortune by accident machos Allen and Bezos. They focus on investments that really matters or are very helpfull (Gates medicine/health money). Jobs made Pixar so big that even Disney was beggin for mercy.

      Space exploration is not even close with the current state of technology. We will go to space easily with better tech in the future but not now. I am shorting Bezos and his company at the fi
      • by ppanon (16583)
        Don't count Paul Allen short. He left Microsoft early because of health reasons, otherwise the history of Microsoft might have been quite different. As a side effect, Allen has diversified his holdings instead of keeping nearly all his eggs in the Microsoft basket. In the end, I think he's the one with the right idea: if you can get a few billion of FU money, do something with it instead of wasting your life endlessly chasing for more. You'll never be able to spend it all but you can do a great deal of good
        • Paul Allen probably is looked upon favourably by more people than Gates. While Bill Gates is better known, a lot of people hold at best mixed feelings about his achievements.

          Paul Allen is probably completely unknown amongst most people. And most people look at Gates as "the richest man in the world" or "that guy who gave like, a billion dollars to fight AIDS in Africa" if they know who he is.

          There are over 6 billion people in the world - most of them have likely never heard of either one, but if they have,
      • Re:ok (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fimbulvetr (598306) on Monday December 26, 2005 @10:42PM (#14342453)
        Space exploration is not even close with the current state of technology. We will go to space easily with better tech in the future but not now. I am shorting Bezos and his company at the first sight of weakness.

        Quite the condradiction, don't you think? I mean, how are you supposed to figure out what kinda tech you need for space flight unless you go and try it? And are we just supposed to casually develop tech for this? Much like the power industry is so focused on alternative power? (not!).

        The simply truth is, necessity is the mother of invention. This seems like a chicken and the egg problem, but it isn't really. We need to get out there and look around, explore, experiment. Once we start doing this, we'll start solving problems. Once we start solving problems, things start to roll. Think about the evolution of boats.

        There were probably civilizations full of people who completely disagreed with some of the people designing (bigger, faster, sturdier) boats thousands of years ago. Thinking there was no useful purpose of them, the naysays just sat around and bitched about how useless the boat-builders actions were. The same thing with the horseless carriage - we already have everything we want with horses - what possible good could the work you're doing be?

        It's true that people like you need to exist statistically - the ones that bitch and point out all of the flaws in the useless shit dreamers talk about - so they probably don't even listen to you naysayers anymore - and for good reason. If people like you ran society, we probably wouldn't even have wheels because we've got enough people to haul those stone blocks the 80km they need to travel.

        Fortunately for us, some people have imaginations.
        • "how are you supposed to figure out what kinda tech you need for space flight unless you go and try it?"

          You aren't a technician are you? Do you think that any of modern craft is built by "try and error"? All new commercial jets, cars and of course space crafts are designed and precisely tested on computers, before any part is assembled. You can simulate pretty much everything today, even dynamical models like fluid and air motion and all kinds of material interaction.

          What we are lacking is a new technolo
          • It's not that tech is developed by trial and error (at least, not since the good ol' days of hydrogen-filled zeppelins), but that tech is developed as a result of a demand for it. Advancements and developments come, not out of some intellectually-altruistic Drive To Acheive, but out of a need to solve a particular problem- from fish hooks, to nuclear missiles, tech is made as a response to a problem.

            Look on extreme cost of shuttle parts, reliablity and longevity of these.. Look at tons of inefficient fue
        • The simply truth is, necessity is the mother of invention. This seems like a chicken and the egg problem, but it isn't really. We need to get out there and look around, explore, experiment.

          Really, $10k/minute rocket rides and "space hotels?" Sure, there's a market for rocketing the egos of billionaires into orbit (arguably, they're already there, so why all the fuss?) and perhaps we can lower that to mere mortal millionaires being blasted into orbiting space hotels... but, necessity? Sure, there's something
  • by D-Cypell (446534) on Monday December 26, 2005 @07:06PM (#14341626)
    the billionaire talked [about] sending a spaceship into orbit that launches and lands vertically ...With just a single click.
  • by komodotoes (939836) on Monday December 26, 2005 @07:13PM (#14341649) Homepage
    With all of the talk lately about civilian space travel, I was wondering if anyone knew specifically how far national borders extend vertically. Obviously satellites orbit over foreign territories all the time, but if the goal is space colonization like everyone thinks, would an American colony be bound by law to be in a geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?
    • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday December 26, 2005 @07:24PM (#14341709) Homepage
      > With all of the talk lately about civilian space travel, I was
      > wondering if anyone knew specifically how far national borders
      > extend vertically.

      100km.

      > ...would an American colony be bound by law to be in a
      > geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?

      What a wonky idea! In any case, it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.
      • The GOES weather sattillites are. One for the East, one for the West, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 356 days a year.
        • The GOES satellites are in an equatorial orbit [nasa.gov]. they have a view of the US from there, but are not directly over the US.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Well not exactly. As another poster noted, you cannot have a satellite in a geostationary orbit over the CONUS. By definition, a geostationary orbit is circular, at zero-degrees inclination relative to the equator. At no time does such an orbit pass over the US. In principal, a geosynchronous orbit (circular, but inclined relative to the equator) could result in a spacecraft producing a figure-eight or teardrop-shaped ground track that moved over the CONUS -- but the GOES birds are geostationary.
        • by mr_mophead (886977) on Monday December 26, 2005 @09:45PM (#14342253)
          Good to hear that our hard working satellites get a week or so off. Wouldn't want them getting burnt out.
      • > ...would an American colony be bound by law to be in a
        > geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?

        What a wonky idea! In any case, it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.

        for more info go here [celestrak.com].
        • >>> ...would an American colony be bound by law to be in a
          >>> geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?

          >> What a wonky idea! In any case, it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.

          > for more info go here.

          I think the GP wanted to say a geostationary orbit, witch is not possible over the US. From your link:

          It should also be clear that it is not possible to orbit a satellite which is stationary over a point which is not on the equato
        • We'll just have to annex Ecuador. Hey - bin laden is probably hiding there! yeah, that's the ticket!
        • Interesting read.

          For some reason I always thought that we could put a satellite in a geostationary orbit above any point on the Earth's surface. Now I'm left wondering why only above the Equator.

          No doubt it's something to do with gravity only stretching out far enough at the Equator to keep a grip on an object at the kind of distances required for such an orbit.
          • Actually, it's got nothing to do with how far gravity "stretches" (gravity gets weaker as distance increases by never goes away -- ignoring any other gravity fields, you could have an orbit of any distance). All circular orbits around the Earth have to be centered on the center of the Earth where it's center of gravity is. (Elliptical orbits and odd orbits that need to be continually corrected to be maintained are another story...)

            An easy way to visualize this is to tie a weight to the end of a string a

          • Oh, nothing so exotic. Consider: First, it is impossible to just orbit, say, the 49th parallel. This is due to the downward pull of gravity, which would 'straighten out' any such orbit. Second, a geosync orbit must have a horizontal trajectory which exactly matches the direction and speed of the earth's rotation. Put two and two together, and it should be pretty clear that geosync orbits can only occur at the equator.
            • Now I'm getting it.

              I imagine a blob of stuff with the consistancy of very stiffly whipped cream, but with the elasticity of Silly Putty, dolloped all over the Earth completely covering.

              I then set the Earth spinning very fast on its axis until the bulk of the stuff starts to sag down towards equator, stretching out into a flying saucer shape while getting very thin at the poles.

              I can then stick a satellite somewhere on the "rim" and imagine that the stuff isn't there.

              I could put the satellite som
              • Not quite. :) What you're describing is centripetal force, which isn't the force at play in this situation.

                Try this: imagine a yo-yo on a string. Now, if you swing the yo-yo in a circle, the center of it's swing will be your hand. Now imagine trying to make the yo-yo swing around a different center, say a position six inches *above* your hand. You can't do it. Why? Because the pull of the string will always cause the yo-yo to swing about your hand. Now, replace your hand with the earth, the string w
          • For your answer checkout this link in your parent's thread. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=172243&cid=143 41821 [slashdot.org]
      • What a wonky idea! In any case, it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.
        Correct. Still, one could use thrusters to stay over the US. Clearly insane, but one can easily imagine reality-detached politicians voting in favour of such a law ;)
      • 10K for everyone else, but as far as the eye / telescope can see for the Americans
      • it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.

        That's such a great point, I had to go looking for a loop hole. It wouldn't be perfectly geostationary, but from what I understand, geostat orbits are usually small figure 8's straddling the equator. I think they could set one up so that the northern loop of the 8 passed just south of Baker Island [answers.com] and stayed within the US' contiguous zone [wikipedia.org].

        Baker Island is 13 minutes (lattitude, not time) north of the equator. That's just unde

    • In all vessels, whether they be fishing boats or airplanes or space craft, they must follow maritime law. Which means this. The captain is God and you are nothing. His word is law. Heirarchy and order are paramount.

      If you are in space or international waters or any unclaimed region, the captain should adhere to the laws thereof- but whether he does or not doesn't matter to you because you have no say and no authority. Consider each vessel a floating country unto itself, to get an idea of what it's abo
    • Dear passengers, the space station is now entering Iranian outer space.

      Would the ladies please cover their face and the men pray. We will be leaving Iranian outer space in 6 minutes and will enter the Turkish outer space, where you will receive instructions and the proper customs forms.
    • Would an American colony be bound by law to be in a geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times? Yes. That's why we are going to conquer, uh, liberate Ecuador.
    • As high as your missles can go.
  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Monday December 26, 2005 @07:14PM (#14341655)
    I like this as an example of privately funded space exploration technology development. All of the participants in this adventure, from fund providers to astronauts, will be associated with the project on a voluntary basis. In the alternative model of publicly funded space exploration, taxpayers are coerced into funding the project and yet they do not exercise any real influence or control over the bureacracy that runs the program. The private model is based on voluntary association. The public model requires coerced association. Therefore, I conclude that the private model has a higher moral foundation.
    • I disagree. The very nature of all government projects is that the entire population of the nation is associated with them. I may not particularly agree with my my nation's current use of its military, but as a member of a democracy, we make decisions as a mass. Frankly, I believe space exploration is far too important to be left to private companies. Sure, they can freely join in, but they are going to be looking for a profit. If there was a privtely owned space station in orbit instead of the ISS, would
      • Your argument is that things that are important to society should not be left to private companies. Let's apply that argument to some other examples. Would you say the same about development of standards for the WWW? It seems to me that voluntary associations of private companies for developing WWW standards has led to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in ways that the government never imagined. I think the same thing is possible with space exploration.
      • by FleaPlus (6935) on Monday December 26, 2005 @08:25PM (#14341972) Journal
        Frankly, I believe space exploration is far too important to be left to private companies.

        I disagree. Air transporation and food production are also quite important, and yet we seem to be doing fine with them being handled by private industry. Of course, there's government interference in those industries, but whether or not such interference is necessary is an argument for another day.

        You, like many others, also seem to be making an assumption that all private groups are also for-profit, which is false. Non-profit groups engage in research and exploration as well, and I hope we'll see them engage in more space exploration as launch prices decrease.

        For example, AMSAT [amsat.org] has launched a number of amateur radio satellites. The Planetary Society (attempted) to launch the first solar sail, funded by member donations. Elon Musk [wikipedia.org] started up a self-funded project to put an experimental greenhouse on Mars, but decided it would be better for now to focus on reducing launch costs via his SpaceX company -- hopefully he'll pursue the greenhouse project again in the future.

        If there was a privtely owned space station in orbit instead of the ISS, would they be doing science, or giving trips to rich tourists?

        That depends on whoever owns the space station. If it's owned by Richard Branson, it'll probably be for tourism. If it's owned by the Howard Hughes Institute, they'll probably be doing medical research. In the past, Bigelow Aerospace [wikipedia.org] has stated that they'll sell their space station modules to pretty much whoever for $100 million each, and they should be up and running in the next few years.
      • If there was a privtely owned space station in orbit instead of the ISS, would they be doing science, or giving trips to rich tourists?


        Exactly how much science is being done on the ISS now? And how many rich tourists have been flown there?

        • Exactly.

          Substitute "powerful tourists" for rich ones and you have our program as it stands. The current incarnation of NASA is a large, bureaucratic publicity stunt.

          I say this as a NASA enthusiast who has watched the agency grind away my hopes and dreams. I used the be a free-marketer in every area but this one. Really, my concern was that there was too much capital investment required to achieve risky profits after a very long runway. I felt that coerced funding from the government was the only way to buil
      • If there was a privtely owned space station in orbit instead of the ISS, would they be doing science, or giving trips to rich tourists?

        Both. If you are going to maintain a space station and make frequent trips to it, you can as well carry automated instrument with you to and from orbit. Since the trips are going to be frequent, the scientists on Earth can simply analyze the results and hand you a new automated mini-laboratory for the next trip.

        Furthermore, if you plan on making this station a kind of

    • You know, idiots like you make me wonder why we even bother with democracy.

      Get your lazy ass out there and start participating in our democracy; don't give us this bullshit about how you are "coerced".
  • by meckardt (113120) on Monday December 26, 2005 @07:19PM (#14341687) Homepage
    I don't know about Amazon... I think that Google will put up a better launch vehicle.

  • More info (Score:3, Informative)

    by Life700MB (930032) on Monday December 26, 2005 @07:30PM (#14341739)

    If you're interested, you can find more info on the topic at this web [slashdot.org].

    --
    Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 2400MB Storage, 120GB bandwidth, ssh, $7.95
  • I think this is just a precursor to the upcoming Amazon eCommerce sites: Amazon.space, Amazon.moon, and Amazon.mars.
  • I wonder if Jeff besoz is a fan of John Carmack.
    • by FleaPlus (6935) on Monday December 26, 2005 @08:39PM (#14342019) Journal
      I wonder if Jeff besoz is a fan of John Carmack.

      Considering that Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace and Bezos's Blue Origin are both operating in Texas and are both developing suborbital reusable VTOL spacecraft, I wouldn't be surprised to see them engage in some sort of collaboration.

      Carmack's been having hardware issues, but being Carmack, probably has top-notch software. I'm betting he would benefit greatly from collaborating with Blue Origin's rocket engineers, and Blue Origin would benefit from his programming godhood.

      Bezos has apparently met with SpaceX's Elon Musk, who's built (and is preparing to launch) a private orbital rocket. Here's a quote from a recent press conference with Musk:

      http://michaelbelfiore.com/blog/2005/11/spacex-pre launch-conference.html [michaelbelfiore.com]

      On Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' space program
      Musk: "I met with Jeff Bezos a couple of times and had dinner. His motivations in doing Blue origin are identical to mine in forming spacex. There's a good chance we'll work collaboratively at some point."

      --Update-- (presumably elaborating on motivations)
      Musk: The expansion of life on earth to other places is arguably the most important thing to happen to life on earth, if it happens. Life has the duty to expand. And we're the representatives of life with the ability to do so.
  • Fame forever (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PietjeJantje (917584) on Monday December 26, 2005 @08:49PM (#14342053)
    In a bigger scope of things, I see IT and dot com zilionaires investing in Space. I wonder if in, say, 100 years, this will be seen as the turning point where space exploration really got into motion. The heroes of the past are NASA, Armstrong, Gagarin and the like. These new rich, raised with SF, want to be the heroes of the future. They cannot be stooped by anything but their ego and the limit of their pocket, which is seemlingly endless. They will compete. They must have limited expectations of return of investment (?) It seems a good thing.
  • This is the basis for the argument for CATs (Cheap Access to Space) and
    http://www.space-frontier.org/Projects/CatsPrize/ [space-frontier.org]
    various legislative pushes and at least a couple of billionaires (including Jeff Bezos of
    Amazon.com) putting a lot of money into this (perhaps as businesses, but
    essentially still billionaire hobbies). While I wish them well, I think
    this approach towards space settlement is misguided. Let's work the
    numbers.

    The USA has about two million millionaires. There are many more
  • It's probably just a coincidence but I set up a local support team for Space Studies Institute [google.com] in Miami early in 1982 so maybe some of our radio appearances had an affect [google.com].
  • by tinrobot (314936) on Monday December 26, 2005 @09:55PM (#14342285)
    Setting down into the white-hot exhaust of a burning rocket engine sure looks cool in the movies, but is it really safe? I mean, the kickback of the exhaust can cause all sorts of heat related problems on the underside of the craft, plus the control mechanism requires extra hardware, plus you have to carry a lot of extra propellant -- adding unnecessary weight and complexity.

    Parachutes, on the other hand, are lighter, much cheaper and a lot safer.

    Keep it simple.
    • Couldn't coming down in a parachute be considered a vertical landing?
    • Control? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Julian Morrison (5575)
      Why not parachutes? I'm guessing, but I'd guess control. A VTOL rocket in the Delta Clipper mold can park itself inside a one-and-a-half diameter chalk circle. A 'chute can probably be guaranteed to hit the right county. They're a recovery mechanism best suited to big government projects that can afford to recover astronauts from large amorphous targets such as deserts, oceans etc. Not suited to eg: intercontinental commuters landing at a spaceport with a schedule to keep.

      Plus, even a VTOL design can use 'c
      • A VTOL rocket in the Delta Clipper mold can park itself inside a one-and-a-half diameter chalk circle.

        You forgot to mention that the Delta Clipper exploded while trying to land. A landing strut failed, causing it to tip over, busting a fuel tank open. The ball of flame was quite large.

        When you land with a parachute, the tanks are empty.
      • Why not a Rogallo canopy then ? With a simple autopilot they can land pretty accurately.
      • Why not parachutes? I'm guessing, but I'd guess control.
        You'd guess wrong.
        A VTOL rocket in the Delta Clipper mold can park itself inside a one-and-a-half diameter chalk circle. A 'chute can probably be guaranteed to hit the right county.
        Virtually every Apollo mission landed within a mile of the recovery vehicle.
  • "The best way to become a millionaire in the launch vehicle business, is to start out as a billionaire."
  • ...the billionaire talked [about] sending a spaceship into orbit that launches and lands vertically, like a rocket, and eventually building spaceships that can orbit the Earth

    So the plan is to launch ships into orbit before building ships that can orbit? This doesn't seem wise.

    Somebody needs to work on his article writing skills.
  • What needs to happen before ANY success will be made in space exploration is the tree hugging variety ( The ones that are very loud. ) of the american public needs to get over the word "Nuclear". It's not a bad word people, and it's good clean abundant energy. You are going to breath hundreds of times more Uranium and other radioactive material from the Coal fired powered plants on this planet then you will ever near within 50 miles of if 100% of the worlds power was Nuclear Fission based..... Back to space
    • Let me first say that I completely agree that nuclear rockets are the way to go, and that putting them in use is long overdue. I also wanted to personally bitch-slap each and every one of the moronic "stop Cassini" protesters.

      Concern over the use of nuclear energy isn't inherently stupid, though. I have to object every time I hear someone call it "clean". The waste is extremely nasty, but can contain it rather than (barring accidents) spewing it out into the environment. I still haven't seen any convincing
  • All the talk seems to be about feasability of public space travel. What I would like to know is this. Is Bezos really a billionaire? Who says? What do they base it on? Doesn't Amazon have a retained deficit in their balance sheet? Are they still selling books or other items for a loss? If the answer is yes to all, then tell me how Bezos has a net worth of a real billion dollars? Is his salary that large at Amazon and he just saved most of it? After all, I believe reading in the Economist that Sandy Weill's
    • I'm sure at least a billion of that is "real," however you want to define it.

      As for the money Bezos has in Amazon stock - Amazon had sales of over $8 billion last year, is turning a profit, and is growing at 30% a year. Owning a sizeable chunk of that action is about as "real" as it gets.
      • Yeah I heard a couple of years ago that his company started making a profit. It was about 3c a share. Dont follow the stock , so maybe the company is making more money now. But seriously, Tinrobot, if you are saying his wealth is in his stock, I dont think this is a realistic measurement. Most of Bill Gate's wealth is in Microsoft, but at the moment that is pretty real. Microsoft generates loads of money. Look at the mega dividend they payed a few years ago. And as for sales of $8 bil., it aint how much sa
        • Jeff Bezos owns 101,283,650 [yahoo.com] shares of Amazon which is worth nearly $5 billion at its current value.

          if you are saying his wealth is in his stock, I dont think this is a realistic measurement.

          Why isn't it a realistic measurement? If I bought $100,000 of Amazon stock, would you say that I wasn't worth $100,000? To put it simply: Jeff Bezos has stuff that he can easily convert into billions of dollars. That makes him a billionaire.

          Most of Bill Gate's wealth is in Microsoft, but at the moment that is pretty r
          • On the contrary, it has a great deal to do with value, if not everything. In the ninties you could have bought any number of high tech companies and been a paper millionare instantly. I know some people that were. Later they were worth less money then with what they started. If you bought 100 grand of Amazon in the late ninites, would you still be worth 100 grand today? Let me give an analogy. Would you pay me half a mil for my 30 grand Toyota? If the answer is yes, please write back. I'll draw up the pap
  • I'd pay good money to fire Jeff Bezos out into deep space.

    Where do I sign?
  • Bush
    Limbuagh
    Rumsfeld
    Cheney ....
  • I hope he doesn't patent those stars...
  • He's hemmorhaging cash at astounding rates.

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