Tech billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has kept his rocket company, Blue Origin, under tight wraps for the last few years. That is, until November, when his New Shepard rocket launched and landed back on Earth — a feat that wowed the spaceflight community.
Now it seems Bezos is ready to open up about Blue Origin. In a move that feels like it was pulled straight out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Bezos gave a rare tour of his mysterious Blue Origin rocket factory in Kent, Washington, to 11 lucky journalists.
During the tour, he revealed his grandiose plans for the future of space travel. Bezos' goal has always been to shuttle tourists to the edge of space, where they'll experience a few moments of weightlessness and glimpse the curvature of the Earth. Now, he says, Blue Origin could be flying test passengers in 2017 and paying customers as soon as 2018.
He has lofty long-term goals, too. Right now, everything that we send into space is built on Earth. Bezos imagines a world where that's reversed, according to GeekWire's Alan Boyle, who attended the tour.
Instead of factories on the planet, Bezos said we'll see that all shift to space. Earth will instead be zoned for residential use and maybe some light industry. Space, where solar energy and raw material is abundant, will bear the brunt of our manufacturing.
Of course that's all far in the future, Bezos told the reporters. For now, Blue Origin is focusing on space tourism and selling its BE-4 rocket engines to other companies.