Jeff Bezos to Sell $1 Billion a Year in Amazon Stock to Finance Blue Origin

A reusable rocket booster, right, and full-scale mockup of a capsule from Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket company on display at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. (Nick Cote for The New York Times)

Standing against the backdrop of his New Shepard rocket booster and a full-scale mock capsule for carrying humans into space, Jeff Bezos revealed on Wednesday that he was selling about $1 billion in Amazon stock a year to finance his Blue Origin rocket company.

Mr. Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, showed off the reusable rocket booster and the mock-up of the capsule that will take people up for panoramic views back down at earth, during a symposium here.

Mr. Bezos, who hopes to build Blue Origin into a commercial and tourist venture, also disclosed that it would cost about $2.5 billion to develop an even bigger rocket, New Glenn, capable of lifting satellites and, eventually, people into orbit.

Like his fellow technology titan Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, Mr. Bezos has identified reusable rocket parts as a key to lowering the price of admission to the field, which he said on Wednesday would lead to a “golden age of space exploration.”

“If we can make access to space low-cost, then entrepreneurs will be unleashed,” he said. “You will see creativity, you will see dynamism, you will see the same thing in space that I’ve witnessed on the internet in the last 20 years.”

Last month, Mr. Bezos announced the first-paying customer, Eutelstat, a satellite company, for New Glenn, whose commercial flights would help offset costs. New Glenn is expected to fly by 2020, he said, but humans will not be passengers on the heavy-lift rocket until many years after that.

Mr. Bezos has repeatedly expressed caution about setting timetables for the start of Blue Origin’s commercial or passenger trips, and he did not diverge from that on Wednesday. He would not say when New Shepard would undergo its next round of test flights, or set a specific date as a goal, merely mentioning next year for possible tourist trips.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Nicholas St. Fleur