When Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos first announced his company would become a gateway to the Internet, most people were skeptical. Except that the notion that readers would flock to the Internet to buy books, that the sale of books would generate sufficient profits to support a major retailer, and that readers who did go to Amazon.com for books would use that same portal to access other goods or services was met with incredulity back in the day as well. For one thing, there was no proof that step one — selling books on the Internet — would ever be profitable. Turns out it just might be true that business model is flawed, but that doesn’t mean everything else being sold on Amazon is a losing proposition. In fact, Amazon is now rolling out maintenance and installation services for the many items requiring those extras. To top it all off, they are experimenting with delivery by drone.
Having conquered what he set out to on terra firma and the sky immediately above, Bezos has now turned his attention to space.
Last week, Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, launched a rocket into suborbital space. And no, it wasn’t for the purpose of faster delivery, though how awesome would that be?
OK, maybe less than ideal.
Anyway, Blue Origin’s unmanned suborbital rocket traveled 58 miles above Earth on its inaugural flight. The rocket is intended to be a reusable ride for space tourists. While it might be surprising that Bezos has decided to succeed at space tourism, more surprising still is the company he is seeking to go up against. From Richard Branson to NASA, there’s plenty of company in the race for commercial space flight.
Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SolarCity already has SpaceX sending materials to the International Space Station. Plans call for a piloted capsule to carry astronauts, too. Richard Branson has no intention of being left back on Earth. His Virgin Galactic is also planning to carry tourists into suborbital space and has a list of very rich customers waiting for the privilege. But neither Musk, Branson, nor Bezos is someone to dismiss lightly. Each of these men has already proven that their goals may be lofty but their ability to attain those goals is real. The race to be first will be an exciting one.