What is Jeff Bezo's exercise program

The space program of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000. Almost in secret, the company has since developed into an important part of the American aerospace scene. It is still something like Bezos' baby: The now richest man in the world still runs Blue Origin and finances it for the most part. Bezos has repeatedly sold Amazon shares to this end, for example recently he sold a chunk worth 1.8 billion dollars. That alone corresponds to the annual budget of the Japanese space agency JAXA or the Indian space agency ISRO.

Even so, much less is known about the rocket start-up than about Elon Musk's company SpaceX. While Musk repeatedly sought the public to finance SpaceX, Bezos' company operated in the shadow of its competitor. There is much to suggest that this was intentional. "Gradatim ferociter" is the motto of the company with the turtle as its mascot. Loosely translated: "Slowly, but unstoppably."

This article is included in Spectrum - The Week, 32/2019

Inspired by science fiction

One can only speculate about Jeff Bezos' exact motives to this day. One thing is certain: He wants to go into space. It is known that the entrepreneur was inspired by science fiction writers such as Gerard K. O'Neill, whose books are about giant space stations with millions of residents. For O'Neill, the future of mankind lies outside in endless weightlessness and not Mars. Bezos thinks the earth should get its resources from the solar system and move industry into space. In a few centuries the earth will only be there for living.

Blue Origin - like SpaceX - came to the conclusion early on that larger space plans would fail because of the single-use rockets that have long been common in the space industry. The model for Bezos was not the much too expensive space shuttle, but the technology of the vertically landing Delta Clipper rocket DC-X, which had passed several successful tests in the 1990s. In 1996, NASA officially took over the vertical lander from the private company McDonnell Douglas. However, an accident soon heralded the end of the program.

Blue Origin followed up here after its establishment and hired many former DC-X engineers. In 2005 the company started its first own test platform. Charon worked like a quadrocopter drone with jet engines and reached an altitude of 96 meters during test flights, far away from the public. At the same time, Bezos had a simple rocket engine developed. The Blue Engine 1, BE-1 for short, was a simple device with a thrust of just ten kilonewtons. For comparison: a Eurofighter engine can achieve nine times this.

The BE-1 decomposed hydrogen peroxide with a catalyst into hot water vapor and oxygen. The technology was not suitable for flights into space, but it only required one fuel component and was therefore ideal for gaining experience. The plan worked: A rocket equipped with the BE-1, named after the American rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard, flew a total of three times in 2006 and 2007. In January 2007, Blue Origin made one of its rare public statements about it.