US should be 'spacefaring' - Bezos

2015-09-17 12:53
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Washington - Technology billionaire Jeff Bezos is excited about the idea of humans in space - millions of them living and working there.

The founder and chief executive of e-commerce giant made a major announcement on Tuesday that takes his space company, Blue Origin, deeper into the 21st century space and closer to that dream.

Bezos is investing $200m in a production facility in Florida to manufacture rockets. The goal is to hold the first launch later this decade, said Bezos, speaking in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Take-offs will be from launch pad 36, a storied site that sent 145 launches into space during 43 years of service.

"This site saw its last launch in 2005 and the pad has stood silent for more than 10 years. Too long," Bezos said. "We can't wait to fix that."

Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000.

"We're not just launching here, we're building here," he said.

Putting vehicle assembly near the launch site will ease transport of the big rockets, he said. Bezos unveiled a photo of the new orbital launch vehicle and promised more details next year.

"We humans need to become a spacefaring civilization," Bezos said. "Do we want to go to Mars? Absolutely. But we want to go everywhere. And if you want to go everywhere, then you need to dramatically lower the cost of space."

Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, joins other technology entrepreneurs who have been pouring money into space travel - and discovering its risks.

Elon Musk, who co-founded PayPal and Tesla Motors, started SpaceX in 2002. It has already launched rockets several times, some carrying supplies to the International Space Station. But its last mission failed when an unmanned rocket broke up during the launch.

British Billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is working on suborbital trips for adventure seekers. The 10-year-old subsidiary of Branson's Virgin conglomerate suffered a fatal crash of a rocket ship last November during a test flight that killed one of the two pilots.

Blue Origin also has had problems. Its New Shepard spacecraft completed its first test flight in April. The unmanned capsule separated and returned to the ground, but the booster crashed because of a malfunction in the hydraulic system.

Read more on:    amazon  |  jeff bezos  |  us  |  space

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