Amazon.com and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos envisions “millions” of people living in orbit as his exploration company, Blue Origin, and other commercial ventures develop spacecraft to make travel more widely available.
Investment from wealthy entrepreneurs with a passion for space will usher in a new era that makes leaving the Earth’s atmosphere accessible to anyone, Bezos said Tuesday.
Earlier, he announced that Blue Origin will put $200 million into a new rocket assembly facility and launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“Our ultimate vision is millions of people living and working in space,” Bezos said during a rare, 30-minute interview in Florida with reporters after the Blue Origin announcement.
“We have a long way to go.”
The 51 year old Bezos the world’s seventh-richest man with a net worth of around $47 billion. Bezos is 3 and half times richer than Elon Musk ($13 billion net worth). Elon Musk also wants millions of people in space. Although Elon wants more people in cities in Mars than in orbit.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Net Worth Soared by $32.1 Billion in 2015
Bigelow expandable space stations and larger reusable rockets would enable large scale space colonization
Bigelow Aerospace has designed 2100 cubic meter expandable space station modules which might be launchable by a slightly refined Spacex Heavy.
The larger planned Mars colonization transport (MCT) would be able to launch modules that are three to five times larger.
Fuel could be launched and stored at fuel depots in orbit. This would enable more cargo to be moved to Mars with refueling in orbit and other locations in space.
Spacex could launch 100 Bigelow 2100 cubic meter modules for about $1 billion using two reusable Spacex Heavies over as little as one year (one launch per week). Blue Origin might also be able to make larger reusable rockets.
This would be 200,000 cubic meters of volume. This would be enough for 2000 people with the same facilities per person as the Hercules resupply depot design.
Spacex could launch 1000 Bigelow 6000 cubic meter modules in one year.
This would be 600,000 cubic meters of volume. This would be enough for 6000 people with the same facilities per person as the Hercules resupply depot design.
Reaching 1 million people in orbit would be 170 of the one thousand expandable modules. 6000 people is a bit more than the number of people in a large aircraft carrier. The Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas has 3309 rooms and suites.
1 million people would be like 170 large light weight versions of cruise ships, hotels or air craft carrier structures in orbit.
Robotic and additive manufacturing could enable massive frames and massive solar power arrays
Tethers Unlimited is currently developing a revolutionary suite of technologies called “SpiderFab” to enable on-orbit fabrication of large spacecraft components such as antennas, solar panels, trusses, and other multifunctional structures. SpiderFab provides order-of-magnitude packing- and mass- efficiency improvements over current deployable structures and enables construction of kilometer-scale apertures within current launch vehicle capabilities, providing higher-resolution data at lower life-cycle cost.
They have received a $500,000 phase 2 NASA NIAC contract, which follows a $100,000 phase 1 contract to develop the technology.
100 of the 2100 cubic meter stations would be about $50 billion without any volume discount.
100 of the 6000 cubic meter station might be about $100 billion.
Launching with reusable rockets would be about $1 billion.
Say $10-20 billion for Spiderfab constructed solar power dish arrays and structure.
There would need to be $10-20 billion for operations.
It would be less than the cost of the international space station.
Spiderfab, Expandable stations and Reusable rockets could make affordable large scale orbital colonization
A ten thousand person colonization space ship design is proposed with a focus on how the community and living spaces should be designed. People are assigned area with the density of the city of Seattle and standard mixed use living areas. Everyone has 50 square meters of living space. There is agricultural and other green areas.
The International space station was built with 160 modules and dozens of launches over fifteen years. It weighs 450 tons. It has about 850 cubic meters of pressurized volume and has a crew of 6.
The cost is $150 billion including 36 shuttle flights at $1.4 billion each, Russia’s $12 billion ISS budget, Europe’s $5 billion, Japan’s $5 billion, and Canada’s $2 billion. Assuming 20,000 person-days of use from 2000 to 2015 by two to six-person crews, each person-day would cost $7.5 million, less than half the inflation adjusted $19.6 million ($5.5 million before inflation) per person-day of Skylab.