Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday talked up progress that his Blue Origin unit has been making in developing space transportation vehicles and services to several hundred attendees–most of them in uniform–at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space, and Cyber Conference.
His remarks came as the Defense Department continues to work on establishing its proposed U.S. Space Command as a unified combatant command, and, if Congress approves, a separate branch of the military. President Trump first announced plans in June to create the Space Force, and Vice President Pence in a speech at the Pentagon last month fleshed out the near-term planning for that effort, with a hoped-for completion date sometime in 2020.
At Wednesday’s Air Force Association event, Bezos participated in a wide-ranging question and answer session that covered more general business management issues, but he also found time to show video clips of Blue Origin launch vehicles and other equipment in action, and explain the company’s goals, including lowering space transportation costs, allowing more frequent space travel, and increasing reliability of transportation.
“You have to be able to go to space more often and with little notice,” he said, adding, “It’s not surprising it’s difficult to do that.”
Bezos didn’t say how much he has put into the business since its founding in 2000, but did say he has invested about $1 billion in Blue Origin manufacturing and launch facilities in Florida, and will invest another $1 billion in the company next year.
“I want people to know how committed we are” to the Blue Origin business, he said. “We’re in.”
Elsewhere during his remarks, Bezos singled out Amazon Web Services (AWS) as one of a few Amazon businesses that have been “gigantic winners” that have helped pay for “thousands of experiments” by the company that did not pay off as well. He added that AWS has been generating “terrific results” from federal government customers.