He may be the richest human on Earth, but Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ ultimate dream lies in a galaxy far, far away.
The billionaire has told how he thinks future humanity will live in “giant space colonies,” rather than settling on the surface of planets.
If successful, his visions will allow for an explosion in population providing life for thousands of times more than the 7.7 billion on earth today.
“The solar system can support a trillion humans, and then we’d have 1,000 Mozarts, and 1,000 Einsteins,” Bezos said.
“Think how incredible and dynamic that civilisation will be.”
His vision for the future includes helping to protect the Earth, which he describes as “the gem of the solar system” seeing it left for purely residential purpose and light industries.
Bezos and his space team, Blue Origin, are hard at work providing humanity with a transportation option to get into space. Moreover, they have some ambitious plans: to land a robotic space cargo carrier on the Moon by 2023.
So committed to his vision and how space can sustain life, Bezos liquidates $1 billion (£750 million) of his Amazon shares each year to fund his private rocket company.
Already the businessman has ruled out humans moving in great droves to other planets, saying the travel, fuel and energy would be too costly.
Instead, he leans towards a concept depicted in popular sci-fi movies including the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey”.
In addressing the Yale Club in New York City, Bezos outlined his vision referring to the work of the pioneering physicist, Gerard O’Neill.
The late space activist came up with the idea of a cylinder-shaped space settlement known as an “O’Neill cylinder”.
It works by two counter-rotating barrels providing gravity for human settlers while stopping the spinning effects.
Bezos said: “I don’t think we’ll live on planets, by the way. I think we’ll live in giant O’Neal-style space colonies. Gerard O’Neil, decades ago, came up with this idea.
“He asked his physics students at Princeton a very simple question, but a very unusual one, which is: Is a planetary surface the right place for humanity to expand in the solar system? And after doing a lot of work, they came back and decided the answer was ‘no.’”
The billionaire said the colonies would have “many advantages” including the protection of Earth.
It is why he called his space company Blue Origin – after the blue planet where all human life started.
“ We want to go to space to protect this planet,” said Bezos, who is worth an estimated £101 billion.
Discussing why he believes colonies rather than life on, say, Mars is the way forward, the divorcing businessman explained the benefits.
“The primary one is that they’ll be close to Earth,” he added.
“The transit time and the amount of energy required to move between planets is so high.
“But if you have giant space colonies that are energetically close and, in terms of travel time close to Earth, then people will be able to come and go.
“Very few people are going to want to leave this planet permanently; it’s just too amazing.”
Taking a swipe a rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX project which wants to put life on the Red Planet, Bezos said: “My friends who want to move to Mars, I say, ‘do me a favour, go live on the top of Mount Everest for a year first, and see if you like it. Because it’s a garden paradise compared to Mars.”
But what happens to our beloved planet once most of us have moved to these space colonies?
Bezos thinks heavy industry, like mining and resource extraction, will move elsewhere in the Solar System leaving Earth in much better shape.
“Ultimately what will happen, is this planet will be zoned residential and light industry,” he said.
“We’ll have universities here and so on, but we won’t do heavy industry here. Why would we? This is the gem of the solar system. Why would we do heavy industry here? It’s nonsense.
“And so over time, of course, you have to today, but over time that transition will happen very naturally.
“It’ll even be the business-smart thing to do because the energy and resources will be so much cheaper off-planet that industries will naturally gravitate to those lower-cost environments.”
Much like his Amazon deliveries, speed is the key to Bezos to realise his vision – a mission he claims is “very doable”.
“If we’re going to have that (colonies), we do have to go out into the solar system,” he said.
“You have to capture more of the sun’s output, and we have to use all of the resources that are out in space, in terms of minerals and not just energy. And that’s very doable, but we have to get started.
“The fact of the matter is we don’t have forever, and the first step, I don’t know all future steps, but I know one of them is we need to build a low-cost, highly operable, reusable launch vehicle. No matter which path you take, it has to go through that gate.
“That’s a very expensive step. That’s why Blue Origin is focused on it.
"It’s not something that two kids in a dorm room are going to do. But I really want that dynamic life and civilisation for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. But we’ve got to get started.”
Asked how his long-term vision would be one realised, he thanked his Amazon customers.
He joked: “Every time you buy shoes, you’re helping fund Blue Origin, so thank you. I appreciate it very much.”
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