One small step for Bezos, one giant leap for space tourism
Jeff Bezos with a net worth of around $105 billion is officially the richest person in history. And with all that wealth, it allows him to splurge on much more than a $100million mansion along the French Riviera or a commercial-airline-sized private jet. Think big. Think out of this world. If you’re Bezos, the tens of billions in your bank account are more than enough to bankroll your own private spaceflight company – like he did with Blue Origin which he set up back in 2000. Blue Origin, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, is out to make an asteroid-sized inroad into the multi-billion-dollar space tourism industry.
Bezos plans to send the tourists to space as early as next year. With only a few months to go, we’re seeing updates regarding the major developmental milestones release almost fortnightly. In December, Blue Origin released a video that showed a mannequin they called Blue Skywalker to space and back.
Last week, it unveiled footage of the ignition of its BE-4 rocket engine. More than a way to peacock the explosive firepower of the rocket, the video displays the engine’s ability to throttle – a method used to control the engine thrust and acceleration. The function is already mastered by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets which services the International Space Station. Throttling is a vital requirement to reuse rockets as it controls the rate of descent and allows the rocket to slowly lower itself vertically back to terra firma.
Latest BE-4 engine test footage where we exceeded our Isp targets. We continue to exercise the deep throttling of our full scale 550,000 lbf BE-4, the reusability of our hydrostatic pump bearings and our stable start/stop cycles. More to follow from ongoing tests. #BE4 #NewGlenn pic.twitter.com/fw5zvtwpJ6
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) January 8, 2018
Bezos’ vision for space is much grander than merely sending people up into space for a joyride and then bringing them back down. He’s dreaming hotels, amusement parks and entire cities built in space. If even a fraction of what Bezos dreams comes true, the global space economy which totaled an estimated $329 billion two years ago, could be worth several times more within a decade.