Jeff Bezos Is Ready to Rejoin the Space Race

Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company Blue Origin is finally ready to launch rockets again after a 15-month hiatus.

Photo of a Blue Origin rocket
Photo via Blue Origin

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The billionaire space race is back on. 

Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company Blue Origin is finally ready to launch rockets again after a 15-month hiatus. Meanwhile, Bloomberg published a splashy profile on Project Kuiper, Amazon’s satellite internet business that miraculously escaped companywide cost cuts in a bid to ultimately challenge Elon Musk’s Starlink.

Ground Control to Major Jeff 

In the heady days of 2021, society’s 1% was high on the billionaire space race and touting the future of space tourism. Bezos himself blasted within a whisker of outer space in a Blue Origin rocket and Richard Branson rode on Virgin Galactic’s first commercial space flight, again just grazing past the edge of our atmosphere. SpaceX’s Elon Musk refrained from any space travel himself, but since 2021 his business has enjoyed more success than his rivals — bearing in mind that a massive explosion doesn’t necessarily count as a failure in the space business.

Blue Origin grounded its rockets in September 2022 after an unmanned craft erupted in the bad kind of explosion, but now it’s ready to start flying again. Both Blue Origin and Project Kuiper are still light years behind SpaceX in terms of both launches and lucrative contracts. However, analysts told Bloomberg that Project Kuiper doesn’t need to rush to market:

  • Once Project Kuiper has flung a significant number of its satellites into space, it can sell the subsequent internet connectivity alongside Amazon’s industry-dominating cloud computing service AWS. Vertical integration with Blue Origin is a ways off, however, as the rocket intended to fly Kuiper satellites into space is years behind schedule, per Bloomberg.
  • Analysts also told Bloomberg that Project Kuiper will have a ready-made selling point: Book with us and you won’t have to worry about the whims of Elon Musk. Bezos’ mission next year is to be nice and predictable.

Pony Up: The UK has been jonesing to get in on commercial space flight, so far with limited success. When Virgin Orbit, Virgin’s answer to Starlink, launched a supposedly historic flight this year it failed to reach orbit — and not long afterwards the business filed for bankruptcy, a common occurrence among satellite companies. However, whereas that (failed) launch was transported by a modified airplane, the UK now has a facility that can launch legitimate rockets. The country just licensed its first-ever vertical rocket launch site on the island of Shetland, of tiny pony fame. If the rockets that take off there aren’t suitably fluffy and pint-sized, we will be sorely disappointed.