Jeff Bezos has done it. Elon Musk has done it. In fact, if you're a billionaire who hasn't started a space company you're officially behind the times.
While SpaceX might have the name recognition ( will do that for a brand), Blue Origin is nipping at its heels when it comes to the space race. And the two have a lot in common. Namely, eccentric billionaire founders who want to build a future for humanity far away from the confines of planet Earth.
In this week's episode of Watch This Space, we take a look at Bezos' plans for space travel with Blue Origin and investigate just what the world's richest man wants to do with his spacious, space-aged rockets.
The Blue Origin basics
Founded in 2000 by Amazon tycoon Bezos, Blue Origin's mission is all about "building a road to space so our children can build the future." It's not a literal road -- not even Amazon money can subsidize that much bitumen and white paint. Instead, Blue Origin wants to work toward a future where "millions of people are living and working in space."
Sound ambitious? You bet. But the company is really working off the ethos that multiple parties have to work together to reach the goal of a future in space, and it takes ambitious organizations to make those first steps. Blue Origin also hopes that by, and subsidizing its costs by flying ultra-rich space tourists on jaunts past the Karman Line into microgravity, will help make it financially viable.
What's with the name?
Blue Origin takes its name from the origin of all its rockets, here on Earth (also known as the Blue Planet). The logo is a feather, which symbolizes flight. This is a space company that does what it says on the can.
What is New Shepard?
There are two rockets in development that will zoom along Blue Origin's road to the future.
First up is New Shepard. Named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard, this reusable rocket is designed to take human passengers (and research experiments) to the edge of space just past the Karman Line, at an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles). As of January 2019, the rocket had been on 10 test flights, most recently. It hasn't started flying humans yet, but those lucky passengers will get an 11-minute flight and the joy of experiencing weightlessness. Their wallets will also feel lighter, with tickets expected to cost .
What is New Glenn?
New Glenn is Blue Origin's rocket that will go into orbital space. It's almost as big as NASA's Saturn V rocket, and Blue Origin says it can carry twice the payload of other spacecraft currently available, and can take off and land in 95 percent of weather conditions. Blue Origin is billing this as a spacecraft that will take cargo into space for third parties who are willing to pay.
What's this got to do with MARS?
While Bezos might not have immediate plans to go to the red planet, he's still got a focus on Mars... sort of.
MARS is Bezos' annual conference focused on the future of technology (it stands for machine learning, automation, robotics and space). Media aren't allowed, so we only know what goes down from the many, many tweets that attendees post during the conference: the crazy robots that do yoga or fly like dragonflies, the Blue Origin rockets on display around the corner from Mark Hamill sitting on a deck chair.
If Blue Origin is a company started by the world's richest man that is going to sell tickets to space for hundreds of thousands of dollars, then it only makes sense that Bezos' space conference would also be for the rich and powerful to show them what the high-tech future holds.
To learn more about Blue Origin, Bezos and the super-exclusive wellness-futurism retreat that is MARS, check out this week's episode of Watch This Space. And you can get your space fix every other Friday with new episodes, or catch up with the whole series on CNET or YouTube.