A week ago, Blue Origin announced that it would formally sell business tickets in 2019, allowing passengers to launch space travel with New Shepard rockets. The commercial space company founded by Amazon founder Jeff & Middot; Bezos in 2000, after nearly 18 years of development, finally turned commercial space travel into reality. Why is Bezos so obsessed with space? Is there an upcoming exciting transformation in the commercial space industry? I believe you can find the answer in this interview.
Not every day you have the opportunity to interview the most famous entrepreneurs and businessmen in the world, but at the 2018 Washington Satellite Congress held in March this year, I was fortunate enough to have such an opportunity. Although I have interviewed many CEOs from all over the world, I was able to interview Jeff · Bezos still kept me excited.
On my way to the interview with a taxi, I recalled the first few interviews I held at the Washington Satellite Conference during 2002-2003. At that time, the long-term prospects and importance of the aerospace industry were not yet clear. But with the addition of Elon & Middot; Musk, Jeff & Middot; Bezos, Richard & Middot; Branson and others and Facebook and other companies, the industry has changed dramatically in the past few years. This change is most evident in the rocket launch market, where SpaceX triggered a revolution. Now others are involved.
Jeff · Bezos was very fascinated by space from an early age. This is not surprising, but taking into account the success of Amazon, from e-commerce cross-border to rocket launches, it still makes people feel incredible.
The interview itself is a very interesting experience. Bezos gave a concise answer to my question. You don't think he wasted a word at all. But what impressed me most was that at the end of the interview, he said that we are still in the industry's first day. Although the aerospace and satellite industries are not just born, Bezos clearly believes that we have ushered in a new era. I can see from his tone that these are not empty words. He really believes that the commercial space sector is going to undergo the most exciting changes.
▎ The following is an exclusive interview with Via Satellite. Bezos talks about his plans for the blue origin company and his views on the future space industry.
Via Satellite: When did you start thinking about creating a satellite and space company? What is the origin of blue origin?
Bezos:I created blue origin in 2000. In the first three years, we studied almost every non-traditional launch technique and wondered if there was anything better than a chemical rocket. Finally, we believe that chemical rockets are actually an excellent technology for launching from the surface of the earth into space. But the problem is that chemical rockets must be reusable. Therefore, starting in about 2003, we began to concentrate on creating highly operable and highly reusable launch vehicles. This is the origin of blue origin. We need to drastically reduce the cost of infrastructure. The current launch costs are too high.
Via Satellite: Many entrepreneurs in this field tend to be fascinated by space when they are young. you too? What was your first thought in your memory of space?
Bezos:I really do. It's not that you have chosen your hobby, but your hobby has chosen you. From the age of 5, I was obsessed with space and rocket launches, watched the Apollo program, and saw Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon. I don't regret it. I just like it. I have poured a lot of it into my life.
There are reports that my high school girlfriend once said she believes that I created Amazon just to earn enough money to create a blue origin. In fact, I have always been involved in the idea of the aerospace industry. Of course, the wealth Amazon has brought me has given me the ability to create blue origins.
Via Satellite: How hard is it to build a space company compared to other companies you have built?
Bezos: It's totally different in some ways, but I think it's very similar in terms of basic principles. If we compare the origins of Amazon and blue, we have built infrastructure for blue origin; for Amazon, we build on existing infrastructure.
So, when I created Amazon and shipped our first parcels in 1995, we didn't need to build a transport network. It already existed. The names were called Royal Mail, US Post Office, Deutsche Post, UPS, and so on. We can rely on these infrastructures without having to build a network. At that time, people used dial-up Internet access, but it was the long-distance telephone network that provided this infrastructure. We do not need to set up a payment system. It already exists and the name is called a credit card. A lot of infrastructure is already available and I can build Amazon on top of the existing infrastructure.
This is why Internet entrepreneurship is so prosperous because admission costs are very low. Basic work has already been completed, so two children in the university dorm can create Facebook. But this is not possible in the aerospace industry because the infrastructure either does not exist or is too expensive.
In this sense, the origin of blue is very different, because what we want to do is build infrastructure. Cheap, reliable and convenient access to space is basic work. If we can do it, then in the next stage, we will see a dynamic aerospace startup environment. If the blue origin is successful, perhaps the two children in the college dorm will be able to create a great aerospace enterprise.
Via Satellite: What do you know about the establishment of these infrastructures? How difficult is it?
Bezos:In my opinion, this requires a lot of financial resources and patience. The mission of Blue Origin is to reduce the cost of launching. There are three things needed to accomplish this mission: financial resources, talent, and patience. We have all three of these things. Standing in the long-term is always one of the advantages of Amazon. I think this is also one of the advantages of blue origin. I think that if you want to do anything meaningful, you must have a long-term perspective, be patient, and understand the mentality of delaying self-satisfaction. This will take a long time. As far as I know, the so-called overnight fame has actually been used for almost ten years.
Via Satellite: You obviously have many different types of business interests. Compared to other interests, how much attention do you give to the origin of blue?
Bezos: Although I devoted a lot of effort to the origin of blue, but Amazon is still my main business. I like to work in Amazon and am full of life and work in the future. We are making use of machine learning, natural language understanding, computer vision and other technologies to do a lot of interesting things that are of great interest to me. However, the origin of blue is my hobby since I was 5 years old.
Via Satellite: There is a view that the past satellite industry lacked innovation compared to other industries such as the wireless communications industry. Do you agree with this view? What can the satellite/aerospace industry learn from other industries?
Bezos: I think there are innovations in some ways. For example, in terms of flux, the satellite industry has made great progress in the past 20 years. I think the reason why people say this (lack of innovation) is because the life cycle of a satellite is about 15 years, and in this generation's time span, you won't make so many iterations.
How many iterations can you do every 20 years? If you are talking about a cell phone, then basically every new year or two will appear in the new cell phone. The new cell phone has a substantial upgrade, faster processing speed, better display and so on. So, the iteration cycle is very fast.
I hope that if Blue Origins can successfully drastically reduce launch costs and increase usability and reliability, this will be a new balance that will allow satellite manufacturers and operators to upgrade faster, replace satellites more often, and let them There are more opportunities to innovate.
Via Satellite: How far are we from this new balance?
Bezos:I do not know. It depends on how fast we can reduce launch costs. If more frequent launches can be made at a lower cost, then people will be more motivated to launch more satellites and make more upgrades.
Via Satellite: In this era, satellite manufacturing and launching will still take several years. Will you be surprised?
Bezos:In my opinion, it would be no surprise to make a satellite in two years. The price factor has greatly contributed to a conservative attitude. Can this thing work in space? Should we not put it on the satellite? What happens if something goes wrong? I talked about these before. If you can't quickly replace satellites at a reasonable cost, you'll be fairly conservative. I hope that as a wise civilization, we can find a new balance, allowing us to replace satellites at a lower cost and at a faster rate, and reducing launch costs is a very important part of this.
Via Satellite: Has the conservative attitude hindered the development of this industry?
Bezos:I think that conservative attitude is reasonable. If you spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a satellite and send it into space for tens of millions of dollars, it will naturally give you a conservative attitude. We need to change this balance.
Launch is part of establishing this balance. Is it important? Yes, but it is only part of it. In addition to reducing launch costs, it also includes the use of more standardized satellites, rocket tiers, power systems, and the like, as well as changing and customizing payloads.
Via Satellite: What effect does the origin of blue have on the satellite industry? What is the overall goal of this company?
Bezos: It is what everyone expects. The three goals of Blue Origins and New Glenn Rockets are to reduce costs, increase reliability, and improve usability. The way to reduce costs is to reuse. To significantly reduce costs, this is the only good way.
The New Glenn booster can be reused 25 times, and the BE-4 engine can be reused 100 times. We have made great efforts in terms of reliability, and the overall structure can operate as usual in the event of a failure. In usability, we have also made great efforts. For example, our requirement is that even if a sensor is broken, it will not postpone the launch, so even if one sensor is broken, we can continue to perform the launch mission. The recovery vessel can be used for booster landings in the state of navigation, so the recovery vessel can use stabilizing fins, so even on rough seas, we can operate the recovery platform. These things help improve usability.
These three goals are the direction of our efforts. We have already solved how to use the New Shepard program to build New Glenn boosters. We learned a lot during the construction of the New Shepard Rocket. We integrated all of this experience into New Glenn.
Via Satellite: You say space is your hobby for many years. Do you plan to create other satellite/aerospace companies?
Bezos:We are currently focused on launching. It will be hard to say what will happen in the future. I am not sure. But I think that the big problem that hampers everything is the cost of launching, the reliability of launches, and the availability of launches. You did a good job launching the project several years in advance, but you were still delayed by nine months, one year, or two years. It should not be like this. We can make great progress in solving the three basic elements of cost, reliability and availability.
Via Satellite: You mentioned the length of time. How long does it take for a customer to launch a satellite?
Bezos:It should be completed quickly. As for how long it takes, I don't know. But I think that doing this doesn't require breaking the physical laws. Through the operation and system improvements, it is possible to significantly shorten the launch cycle. It's just not yet known how much it can be shortened. However, there is no reason to believe that the launch cannot be completed soon.
Via Satellite: Will reusability become the standard in this industry?
Bezos:That's right, but I think it takes time. LNG costs and liquid oxygen costs are already very low, and the real cost of launching is the hardware you discard. Therefore, in the next stage, we must focus on the reusability of the upper level, because that will be the next big opportunity. That is a different question, an interesting question. However, the biggest cost is actually a booster, so you should start here.
Via Satellite: Some people say that satellites and space travel to everyone's life, and its scope is beyond our expectations. Do you think this industry has a bright future? Satellites have always been at the edge of the communications ecosystem. Will this change?
Bezos:Trends are always mixed and mixed. This is only reasonable. Later will be hybrid geostationary/low earth orbit satellites, terrestrial systems, fiber optics, and so on. Everything will only be part of it.
I think that with the development of this industry, one day, the cost can be reduced. If Blue Origin successfully reduced the launch cost, if satellite manufacturers achieved satellite mass production, reduced production costs, and used more standardized parts, then you would find that satellites will be more than land-based alternatives. Competitiveness. You will see more satellites.
Via Satellite: What is the price of satellites?
Bezos:This is not easy to say. With reusable launch vehicles, the price of satellites should be able to become very low, but we must wait for time to give an answer. I think it's hard to know now how much the price will drop, but it's certainly much lower than it is today.
Via Satellite: What changes in the entire communications landscape will take place in the next two years? What role will the blue origin of space activities play in this map?
Bezos:Our role is very clear. Our mission is to move toward space, accelerate the pace, reduce launch costs, make launches more reliable, and provide greater availability. This is our role. It is also the process of building our infrastructure. I invested about $2.5 billion in New Glenn and we will open up resources for the world. Improving this part will promote improvements in all other parts.
Via Satellite: In the end, what do you want to say to readers?
Bezos:I am very optimistic about the future. What I want to say to readers is that I think now is the "day one" of the aerospace industry. This is a huge industry and it is already an important industry. I think it will become even bigger.
I think that apart from communications, we will find new uses for space, which would have never been imagined before. I don't know what it is, but I hope to see the explosion of aerospace ventures and hope to see vitality. I hope to see the aerospace industry have seen countless trials and numerous startups like the Internet in the past 20 years. A great industry is not created by a few players, nor by any company. A great industry is created by a large number of companies. This is what the aerospace industry will happen.
‘The first day’ is one of my favorite words. My Amazon office building was named ‘first day’. In my opinion, maintaining the "first day" mentality is very important. I think that this is not the first day for the development of the aerospace industry. The universe is too big. I hope to see many people living and working in space. To date, there are only 13 people in space at the same time. As a smart civilization, we are still toddlers in the use and exploration of space, but we will continue to grow.