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Blue Origin rockets lift off on $1B a year from Jeff Bezos

Space isn't cheap. That has Bezos digging deep into his Amazon riches.

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Inside a Blue Origin cabin.

Michael Craft Photography

So, how much does it cost to keep a tech mogul's space-travel pet project afloat?

It ends up the magic number is $1 billion a year.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, told reporters Wednesday that's the value of Amazon stock he sells annually to fund his rocket company, Blue Origin.

"My business model right now for Blue Origin is I sell about a billion a year of Amazon stock and I use it to fund Blue Origin," Bezos said at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado, according to Bloomberg. "So the business model for Blue Origin is very robust."

Robust for sure, since Bezos was just minted the second-richest person in the world, with a fortune of over $75 billion. The financing is an early investment in what Bezos sees as a huge opportunity to create a platform for space startups somewhere down the road.

He's hardly alone in seeing -- and seizing -- early opportunities in a booming new space race. Having deep pockets certainly helps. That's certainly the case with Richard Branson, who's got his head and his riches in the clouds with plans to shuttle tourists into space and to launch microsatellites, and with Elon Musk, who's already running supply missions to the International Space Station and who has crazy-ambitious ideas about setting up an outpost on Mars.

Meanwhile, aerospace stalwarts like Boeing have their own projects to get in on commercial missions to and from orbit.

Musk's SpaceX made history last week when it launched a recycled rocket. Both Musk and Bezos believe that rocket reuse is a critical step in making space flight cheaper and available to more people.

Bezos also mentioned Wednesday that a new rocket Blue Origin is developing, called New Glenn, would cost roughly $2.5 billion. The rocket will be able to carry satellites into orbit and, someday, people.

He's shied from offering specific timelines on when Blue Origin will start lifting people into space, but the company has been showing off some of its future creature comforts, such as a six-person capsule with comfy chairs and plenty of windows.

Amazon didn't immediately return a request for comment.

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