Jeff Bezos in going big on his space rides and satellite-launching venture.
The Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) founder and CEO stated on Wednesday that each year he is selling about $1 billion worth of the ecommerce stock to finance his ambitious space endeavor. Called Blue Origin Rocket Company, Bezos’ firm plans to offer paying customers an 11 minute ride in space.
The flight capsule, known as the New Shepard, has the capacity to carry up to six passengers and will be assisted by a reusable rocket to take passengers to a height of around 100 miles (160 km) above the earth’s surface and back. The short ride will allow passengers to experience zero gravity (state of weightlessness), and get a panoramic view of the earth. (See also, Amazon Launches Amazon Cash.)
The Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin company has been conducting unmanned test flights since 2015 and expects to commence test flights with company pilots and engineers by next year.
The company is also building a separate launching system called New Glenn, which will be capable of carrying satellites to earth’s orbit. The system is also expected to support people’s trips to space in future, and will cost around $2.5 billion to develop.
Blue Origin would directly compete against SpaceX, a similar venture by Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) founder Elon Musk, which is also working on launching spacecrafts into earth’s orbit.
“My business model right now … for Blue Origin is I sell about $1 billion of Amazon stock a year and I use it to invest in Blue Origin," said Bezos at the annual U.S. Space Symposium in Colorado Springs to reporters.
Being the largest stock holder of Amazon with a holding of around 80.9 million shares, Bezos' total stake in Amazon stock is worth around $73.54 billion based on Wednesday’s closing price of $909.28 per share. He would have to part ways with around 1.1 million Amazon shares to raiset the indicated $1 billion capital based on Wednesday’s closing price. (See also, Plug Power Skyrockets on News of Amazon Interest.)