Jeff Bezos appeared on TV this Monday morning (19), the day before he boarded Blue Origin’s first manned flight to the edge of space. He took advantage of the audience on NBC’s traditional Today program to defend himself against claims of being another billionaire walking through space, in a reference to fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk, who develop space tourism ventures.
Questioned by anchor Hoda Kotb about this claim, the founder of Blue Origin and Amazon said he is no longer one of those “rich guys on a ride” through space. His pioneering journey, he said, seeks to build an infrastructure for future generations.
In the interview, Bezos was accompanied by his brother Mark, 82-year-old astronaut Wally Funk, and student Oliver Daeman. The four will make the first manned suborbital flight of the New Shepard rocket, from Blue Origin, this Tuesday (20), with take-off scheduled for 10:00 am (Brasilia time).
Building an enterprise for the future
On the question of going for a walk in space rather than focusing on Earth’s problems, Bezos acknowledged that his critics may even be partly right. “We have to do both,” he said. “We need to focus on the here and now, and look to the future,” he concluded.
Another oft-cited billionaire, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, beat Bezos in the “space race”, going to the so-called edge of space with his team on July 11th. Although he traveled nine days before Bezos, he must reach a higher altitude than his competitor.
Bezos acknowledges that entering space today is extremely expensive, limiting the interesting things “you could do”. So what he and other entrepreneurs are doing today is paving the way for new generations. And he asked: “Young people today, how are they going to use the space?”