Jeff Bezos expanded on his space vision at Buzz’s gala in Florida:
Bezos rejects the common ‘Plan B’ argument in favor of human exploration; that one day the Earth is going to be destroyed, so we’d better find somewhere else to live.
“I hate that idea, and I find it very un-motivating,” said Bezos.
“We have sent robotic probes now to every planet in the solar system and, believe me, this is the best one – Earth is a gem, it’s incredible.”
He then went on to quote several Apollo astronauts about what they thought about Earth when they returned form the Moon, notably Apollo 14’s Alan Bean: ‘Since returning I have not complained about the weather one single time – I’m glad there is weather. I’ve not complained about traffic— I’m glad there are people around. Why do people complain about the Earth? We are living in the Garden of Eden.’
…For Bezos, colonising space is a more a simple necessity for continued life on Earth. The compound effect of the incremental increase in energy requirements will mean us having to cover every inch of Earth in solar cells, he said, while the solar system offers virtually unlimited energy resources.
“We can harvest resources from asteroids, from Near-Earth Objects, and harvest solar energy from a much broader surface area – and continue to do amazing things,” he said. The alternative, he said, was an era of stasis and stagnation on Earth, where we are forced to control population and limit energy usage per capita.
“I don’t think stasis is compatible with freedom or liberty, and I sure as hell think it’s going to be a very boring world – I want my grandchildren’s grandchildren to be in a world of pioneering, exploration and expansion throughout the solar system.”
He also suggested that exploration and colonisation of the solar system would make it possible to support one trillion people.
“Then we would have 1,000 Einstein’s and 1,000 Mozarts, how cool would that be?” he said.
“What’s holding us back from making that next step is that space travel is just too darned expensive because we throw the rockets away. We need to build reusable rockets and that’s what Blue Origin is dedicated to.”
Bezos’s vision is much more hopeful and expansive than Elon’s, which is more about fear (i.e., Plan B), and mostly constrained to a single planet (Mars). But I’m glad they’re both out there competing with each other to (finally) drive down the cost of access to space.
But I do criticize one aspect of the report:
Elon Musk’s SpaceX, based at Kennedy Space Centre’s Pad 39A where the Apollo missions launched from, is due to test its 229ft Falcon Heavy (FH) rocket this September. It will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world, though NASA’s Mars-focused SLS, at 365ft rocket, will takeover that mantle in 2028 or so.
The latter is not a reportable fact. I’d have written it as “though NASA hopes that its Mars-focused SLS, at 365ft rocket, will takeover that mantle in 2028 or so.” I think it’s a fantasy, if both Falcon Heavy (and maybe ITS) and New Glenn and New Armstrong are operational by then. The SLS jobs program will not survive that.