What Jeff Bezos Has Said About Space Travel Ahead of Blue Origin Launch

On Tuesday, Blue Origin will launch Jeff Bezos into space. For the world's richest person, this represents the realization of a childhood dream, though Bezos's space ambitions go much further than an 11-minute flight.

The Amazon founder says he has "dreamed of traveling to space" since he was five years old. It was at this time that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

After graduating from Miami Palmetto Senior High in 1982, he told the Miami Herald that he wanted to "build space hotels, amusement parks, yachts and colonies for two or three million people orbiting around the earth."

At Princeton University he became the president of a club called Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

He founded Blue Origin in 2000, but it wasn't until the 2010s that Bezos really began to reveal the true scale of his space ambitions.

"Personally, I can't wait to fly," he told ABC News in 2013, and more recently he has started to explain the rationale behind his plans.

"Everybody who goes to space says they come back a little changed and they realize how beautiful this planet is and how small and fragile it is," he told CBS News in July 2019.

"Something that we can't see when we are down here, but from up there it becomes obvious."

In the same interview, Bezos said that one of his primary aims is to enable all of Earth's high-polluting industries to be relocated off-planet.

"Eventually it will be much cheaper and simpler to make really complicated things like microprocessors ... in space and then send those highly complex manufactured objects back down to Earth so that we don't have the big factories and pollution-generating industries that make those things now," he said.

"We have to go to space to save Earth," he told The Atlantic in 2019.

However, Bezos has also repeatedly argued that space holds infinite resources, and can offer humanity the "freedom" continue expanding and carry on consuming.

"If somebody is telling you how many children you can have, and how much energy you can use, that doesn't sound like freedom to me," he said at the Living Legends of Aviation awards ceremony in January 2019.

"What sounds like freedom to me is moving out into the solar system, where we have, for all practical purposes, unlimited energy, unlimited resources.

"We'd have a trillion humans in the solar system, and then we'd have a thousand Mozarts and a thousand Einsteins. That's the world I want my grandchildren's grandchildren to live in."

In a May 2019 presentation, he continued to build on this theme.

"What happens when unlimited demand meets finite resources? The answer is incredibly simple: rationing," he said.

"The good news is that if we move out into the solar system, for all practical purposes, we'd have unlimited resources.

"So, we get to choose. Do we want stasis and rationing or do we want dynamism and growth? This is an easy choice. We know what we want, we just have to get busy."

One of the main criticisms that Bezos, who is worth more than $205 billion, has left himself open to is whether he could be putting some of his considerable wealth to causes on Earth rather than the orbit.

"I will not spend one minute of my life on anything that I don't think is contributing to civilization and society," he said at Wired's 25th anniversary summit in October 2018.

"You want risk-taking. You want people to have visions that most people won't agree with. If you have a vision that everybody agrees with, you probably shouldn't do it because someone else will do it first. All of the real needle-movers are driven by being right when most of the world is wrong."

However, ahead of the Blue Origin flight he told CNN that critics who had labeled space flights from multi-billionaires like Bezos and Richard Branson as "joyrides for the wealthy" were "largely right."

"You know, we have lots of problems here and now on Earth and we need to work on those, and we always need to look to the future. We've always done that as a species, as a civilization. We have to do both," he said.

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos speaks after receiving the 2019 IAF Excellence in Industry Award during the 70th International Astronautical Congress in Washington, DC on October 22, 2019. Bezos will be aboard a Blue Origin space flight on July 20. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images