When Jeff Bezos isn’t doing his “day job” running Amazon, he’s thinking a lot about outer space.
On stage at Vox Media’s Code Conference, Bezos said he believes his rocket company, Blue Origin, is building the infrastructure necessary to help people of the future to innovate, and that, ultimately, we’ll need to move heavy industry off Earth in order to save the planet.
Doing the heavy-lifting
Bezos wants to make the future easier for space entrepreneurs.
When he founded Amazon more than 20 years ago, a lot of the infastructure he needed to build the business was already in place. There was already a method for online payments. Delivery services existed to cart goods across the country. If Amazon had had to build out all those services itself, it would have been too expensive to succeed at its core idea of making any book available online.
He believes Blue Origin’s reusable rockets will be similarly valuable for the future.
“When it comes to space, I see it as my job to build infastructure the hard way — I’m using my resources to put in place heavy-lifting infastructure so the next generation of people can have a dynamic, entrepreneurial explosion into space,” he said. “I want thousands of entrepreneurs doing amazing things in space and to do that we need to dramatically lower the cost of access to space.”
Not as Mars-focused as Elon Musk
When interviewer Walt Mossberg asked about the difference between Bezos and another giant in the space scene, Elon Musk, he said that Musk is much more singularly focused on colonizing Mars as a means to preserve humanity.
“I want us to go to Mars, but he’s singularly focused on that,” Bezos says. “I think, motivation wise, I don’t find that Plan B idea motivating. I don’t want a Plan B for Earth. I want Plan B to be, make sure Plan A works. I think you go to space to save Earth.”
He believes that the way to protect the planet is by moving heavy industry into space. His argument is that we can’t stop using more energy, so we need sustainable energy, but Earth isn’t actually efficient for methods like solar power. So, in the next several hundred years, we should move industries that take a lot of energy off the planet.
Here’s his explanation:
“If you take baseline global energy utilization today and grow it by just 3% a year, the power of compounding is so extraordinary that within just a few hundred years, you will have to cover the whole landmass of Earth with solar cells. Just 3% compounding, just a few hundred years. So, what are you going to do? I think that over the next few hundred years we need to move our heavy industry off-planet. Our earth will be zoned residential and light industrial. And that just makes a lot of sense! You shouldn’t be doing heavy industry on earth. Resources are more plentiful in space. We can build gigantic chip factories in space, and then just send the little bits down. We don’t actually need to build them here.”
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.