I talked to Haley Byrd about this yesterday, and she quoted me.
Eric Berger has a longish piece on the debut of Block 5 Falcon 9, and its implications.
…has passed its initial tests. This is one of the most useful things I’ve seen to come out of NASA in a while. Just think what we could be doing if we were doing more of this kind of thing, instead of building a giant rocket and capsule.
Eric Wemple is uncharacteristically (but appropriately) vicious to his fellow journalists.
Sarah Hoyt (who would know): A remembrance of May Days past.
An interesting interview. If you don’t want to RTWT, here is what he says about space:
Döpfner: Well, you are not flying airplanes, but you are sending rockets to the orbit. Could you share with us the vision of Blue Origin and the idea of space tourism with reusable rockets?
Bezos: Yes. This is super important to me, and I believe on the longest timeframe – and really here I’m thinking of a timeframe of a couple of hundred years, so over millions of decades – I believe and I get increasing conviction with every passing year, that Blue Origin, the space company, is the most important work that I’m doing. And so there is a whole plan for Blue Origin.
Döpfner: Really, so you’d say retail, e-commerce, clouds, publishing – that’s all less relevant than the space project.
Bezos: Yes, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, of course, I’m interested in space, because I’m passionate about it. I’ve been studying it and thinking about it since I was a five-year-old boy. But that is not why I’m pursuing this work. I’m pursuing this work, because I believe, if we don’t, we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis, which I find very demoralizing. I don’t want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in a civilization of stasis. We all enjoy a dynamic civilization of growth and change. Let’s think about what powers that. We are not really energy-constrained. Let me give you just a couple of numbers. If you take your body – your metabolic rate as a human it’s just an animal, you eat food, that’s your metabolism – you burn about a 100 Watts. Your power, your body is the same as a 100-Watt lightbulb. We’re incredibly efficient. Your brain is about 60 Watts of that. Amazing. But if you extrapolate in developed countries where we use a lot of energy, on average in developed countries our civilizational metabolic rate is 11 000 Watts. So, in a natural state, where we’re animals, we’re only using a 100 Watts. In our actual developed-world state, we’re using 11 000 Watts. And it’s growing. For a century or more, it’s been compounding at a few percent a year – our energy usage as a civilization.
Now if you take baseline energy usage globally across the whole world and compound it at just a few percent a year for just a few hundred years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells. That’s the real energy crisis. And it’s happening soon. And by soon, I mean within just a few 100 years. We don’t actually have that much time. So what can you do? Well, you can have a life of stasis, where you cap how much energy we get to use. You have to work only on efficiency. By the way, we’ve always been working on energy efficiency, and still we grow our energy usage. It’s not like we have been squandering energy. We have been getting better at using it with every passing decade. So, stasis would be very bad I think.
Now take the scenario, where you move out into the Solar System. The Solar System can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes. That’s the world that I want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in.
By the way, I believe that in that timeframe we will move all heavy industry off of Earth and Earth will be zoned residential and light industry. It will basically be a very beautiful planet. We have sent robotic probes to every planet in this solar system now and believe me this is the best one.
Döpfner: Jeff when can I buy the first ticket to do a little space tour.
Bezos: We are going to be… So the first tourism vehicle – we won’t be selling tickets yet – but we may put humans in it at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year. We are very close. We are building a very large orbital vehicle. We have been working on that for more than five years. It will fly for the first time in 2020. The key is reusability. This civilization I’m talking about of getting comfortable living and working in space and having millions of people and then billions of people and then finally a trillion people in space – you can’t do that with space vehicles that you use once and then throw away. It’s a ridiculous, costly way to get into space.
You don’t say. And yet NASA continues to waste billions on it each year.
Congratulations to Bezos and Blue Origin for another successful test flight into space of New Shepard and the capsule today. Another milestone to first test passengers this year, then paying ones next year.
For those interested, Bob Zimmerman seems to have this beat covered.