If you can get beyond the confines of five-year-plan thinking, transgalactic marketing may be your next big opportunity.
“I want millions of people living and working in space. I want us to be a space-faring civilization,” Jeff Bezos, founder of the Blue Origin aerospace company and one-time postal deliveryman for Amazon.com, told the audience at the Space Foundation’s annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs yesterday.
“My motivation is, I don't want Plan B to be, ‘Good news, Earth got destroyed by a big comet but we live on Mars.’ I think we need to explore and utilize space in order to save the Earth,” he said, referring to the need to shift industrial manufacturing to space to limit the impact on Earth's resources,” Tamara Chuang reports the the Denver Post.
“This is Blue Origin's mission: To put into place some of that heavy-lifting infrastructure and make access to space a much lower cost so thousands of entrepreneurs can do amazing and interesting things and take us into the next era,” Bezos said. “We only need two things to do it: reusability and practice.”
Regarding that first point, Bezos feels commercial space exploration can advance at the fast pace of Internet commerce only if the cost is reduced through advances in reusable rockets, Bloomberg’s Spencer Soper tell us.
“Amazon grew so quickly because key infrastructure was already in place, such as delivery through the postal service, phone lines for Internet access and credit card payments. The missing piece for space travel is low-cost launches, which will only happen when rockets can be reused like airplanes,” Soper writes.
Regarding the second point, “Bezos thinks the key to practice in the rocket industry is space tourism, and Blue Origin hopes to use its New Shepard rocket to regularly take six paying passengers at a time to the edge of space where they can float for a few minutes before returning to Earth in a parachuted capsule. Test astronauts are slated to go up in 2017, with paying tourists in 2018,” Jane Wells writes for CNBC.
“If you need to have a surgery, find somebody who does the operation 20 to 25 times a week,” Bezos says.
As for competition, pile it on.
“Despite some high-profile sniping on Twitter with SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Bezos… believes there’s enough room in the private spaceflight market for the many companies…,” Miriam Kramer reports for Mashable.
“Great industries are usually built by not just one or two or three companies, but usually by dozens of companies. There can be many winners,” Bezos said. “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 I think they all can.”
Meanwhile, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking yesterday proposed sending thousands of nanocraft the size of a postage stamp — “starchips” — to explore the Alpha Centauri galaxy that’s some 25 trillion miles down the interstate.
“Propelled by energy from a powerful array of Earth-based lasers, the spacecraft would fly at about one-fifth the speed of light. They could reach Alpha Centauri in 20 years, where they could make observations and send the results back to Earth,” reports the AP’s Malcolm Ritter.
“The plan relies on Moore's Law — specifically, an observation that the number of transistors on a chip tends to double every couple of years, or in general, the belief that computing hardware improves at an exponential rate,” Camila Domonoske writes for NPR.
“Computers that once would have filled a room fit on your palm; now, Milner and Hawking say, it's possible to imagine fitting cameras, a battery, navigation and communication equipment and even photon thrusters on a ‘gram-scale wafer’ about the cost of a smartphone,” Domonoske continues.
Hawking admitted that the probability of finding intelligent alien life in the next 20 years is “very low” but pointed to research suggesting that “there are livable planets in our galaxy alone, and billions more in the rest of the universe,” reports Ema O'Connor for BuzzFeed.
When asked what extraterrestrial intelligent life might look like, he answered, “Judging from the election campaign, definitely not like us.” That also suggests there might a viable market for the likes of Trump Vodka after all.