business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Forget delivery drones. Jeff Bezos has his eye on a much higher target.

Bloomberg reports that Blue Origin, the private space company that the Amazon CEO founded, "on Thursday launched its first test flight of its New Shepard space vehicle from Van Horn, Texas. The company's goal is to offer sub-orbital flights so passengers can experience weightlessness and see Earth from a distance of more than 50 miles (80 km)."

According to a note posted by Bezos on the Blue origin website, "The in-space separation of the crew capsule from the propulsion module was perfect ... Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return."

Wow. Cool.

Not everything was smooth, of course: "One of our goals is re-usability, and unfortunately we didn't get to recover the propulsion module because we lost pressure in our hydraulic system on descent," Bezos wrote "Assembly of propulsion module serial numbers 2 and 3 is already underway – we'll be ready to fly again soon."

Bloomberg writes that "a goal of commercial space carriers such as Blue Origin and rival billionaire space pioneer Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is to reuse components that usually burn up in space travel, which would significantly reduce the costs of each flight." That remains an elusive target.

But I have to say that I am thrilled by the notion of people like Bezos and Musk trying to take us where no one has gone before, and that they are funding the exploration of final frontiers that we no longer have the national will to explore. I've always believed that our dropping of the ball of space exploration is a fundamental failure of epic proportions that demonstrates a philosophical narrow-mindedness and earth-centric perspective about our future and place in the universe.

There is no question in my mind that we're not alone. And I absolutely believe that we ought to be out there, and yes, we ought to be seeking out new life and new civilizations.

So I'm glad that Bezos and Musk are out there.

Of course ... in all likelihood Bezos may have at the back of his mind a scheme that would allow DHL to use suborbital craft to hasten the delivery of Amazon packages, and it seems like a pretty good bet that he's looking for prime real estate on the Moon and Mars for Amazon distribution centers.

But you gotta start somewhere.

Besides, if we're going to go up against the Ferengi at some point, I'm perfectly happy to have someone like Bezos leading the charge. (I'll bet Bezos has at least 286 Rules of Acquisition ... )
KC's View: