WASHINGTON — Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has invested at least half a billion dollars of his own money into Blue Origin, his spaceflight venture, a company official said July 17.
“We’re very fortunate to have a founder who has a vision and the funding and resources to match it,” Brett Alexander, director of business development and strategy at Blue Origin, said during a panel session of the Future Space 2014 conference in Washington. Bezos, best known as the founder and chief executive of Amazon.com, established Blue Origin in 2000.
Blue Origin has received a small amount of funding from NASA in the form of awards in the first two phases of the agency’s commercial crew program: $3.7 million in 2010 and $22 million in 2011.
“We got $25 million from the NASA commercial crew program, and that represents less than 5 percent of what our founder has put into the company,” Alexander said.
That would mean Bezos’ investment in Blue Origin is at least $500 million.
Blue Origin has been quietly working on suborbital and orbital launch systems, revealing few details about its plans outside of milestones in its Space Act Agreements with NASA. Alexander said Blue Origin’s architecture is based on the incremental development of reusable vehicles that take off and land vertically, but did not disclose details on specific designs or development schedules.
Bezos’ investment in Blue Origin represents only a small fraction of his wealth. Bezos ranked 12th in the most recent Forbes 400 listing of the world’s wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of $27.2 billion, primarily in the form of shares of Amazon.com.
“As Jeff would say, he won the lottery and then is able to do what he really wanted to do, which is build a space company to get people into space,” Alexander said.