LOS ANGELES – Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos says his Blue Origin space project will work with NASA and the European Space Agency to create a settlement on the Moon.
In order to achieve public-private partnerships, Bezos will do what needs to be done to achieve this, he said here at the International Spatial Development Conference on Friday night.
Bezos presented his vision for the Moon Settlement during a fireside chat with her. This happened immediately after he received the National Space Society's Gerard K. O'Neill Memorial Award.
In the short term, Blue Origin aims to reduce the cost of accessing space – first with the subshub spacecraft New Shepard, and then with its orbital class New Glenn missile in the 2020s.
In the long run, Bezo's vision has paved the way for millions of people in outer space. These people could only live and work in hollowed-out asteroids – a concept proposed decades ago by O Neill, a Princeton physicist whose Bezos space-saving ideas fostered passion for the ultimate frontier.
As Bezos sees it, moving heavy industry into solar powered outposts is the only way to ensure that our planet can cope with rising energy demands and increasing stress. Populations will attract Earth's environment.
"We will have to leave this planet," Bezos said. "We will leave it, and it will make this planet better, we will come and go, and the people who want to stay will stay."
The earth will be used for the residential and light industry, while the heavy industry Moved away from the planet and powered by solar power around the clock, he said.
"Earth is not a very good place to do heavy industry, it is convenient for us right now," Bezos said. "But in the not-too-distant future – I'm talking about decades, maybe 100 years – it's going to be easier to do many of the things we're doing in space on Earth right now, because we're going to have that much energy."  So what happens between short and cross country skiing? That's where the moon plays a role.
Just as Mars is always in focus for SpaceX's billionaire founder Elon Musk, the moon shines as the focus for Bezos. Even before the Trump government officially focused on the Moon and its surroundings, Bezos talked about using robots to build a lunar city for potential human inmates.
During the Friday conversation Bezos pointed out that the moon is easily accessible, reachable in just a few days with the right rocket. Scientists have discovered that near the poles there are water ice deposits that can be converted into potable water, breathing air and propellants for refillable rockets.
"It's almost as if someone is setting that up for us," Bezos said.
To facilitate the return to the moon, Blue Origin has a lunar module on the drawing boards that will deliver 5 tons of payload to the lunar surface. That's enough to transport people – and with sufficient support, it could fly until the mid-2020s.
Blue Origin has proposed to build its Blue Moon Lander as part of a public-private partnership with NASA. "By the way, we'll do that, even if NASA does not," Bezos said. "We'll do it sometime, we could do it much faster if there was a partnership."
The Space Agency is just beginning to consider its options for a heavy lunar lander – and Blue Origin will certainly compete with other companies including SpaceX as United States Launch Alliance and Masten Space Systems
It is important to note that lunar settlement is not just a matter for NASA. Bezos told me that he loves the approach of the European Space Agency, known as the Moon Village.
"The Moon Village concept has a nice feature that everyone basically just says, look, everyone builds their own outpost, but let's get close to each other, so if you need a cup of sugar, you can go to the Outpost of the Obviously, I'm silly with the eggs, but there will be real things like, "Do you have some oxygen?" "
So How far is Blue Origin ready? Bezos has already committed the company to build rockets and lander. How about rovers, habitats and all the other hardware that needs a lunar base?
"We will do everything we need to do," Bezos said. "I hope we do not have to do it, I want other people to do it, but if we have to, we'll do it."
Bezos is in the long run. He is the richest person in the world, with more than $ 130 billion in net worth, and he annually raises $ 1 billion in Amazon shares to fund Blue Origin.
"One of two things will happen," he said. "Either other people will take over the vision or I'm running out of money."
"And I think it will be a while before you run out of money," I said.
"Let us hope so," he said with a smile.