After Tuesday’s election results came in, Jeff Bezos realized that he had made a mistake: A year ago, he joked that he’d save now-President-elect Donald Trump a seat on a Blue Origin rocket to space, with no hint of a return journey. Now, Bezos is quickly covering. On Thursday, he publicly congratulated Trump on his victory. If Bezos wants to get humans off Earth, he’d best hope Trump accepts his apology.
“Congratulations to @realDonaldTrump,” Bezos posted on Twitter. “I for one give him my most open mind and wish him great success in his service to the country.”
It’s therefore a sensible move for the Amazon and Blue Origin founder. Bezos’s indignant tweet last December, in which he joked that he should #sendDonaldtospace, was in response to Trump’s own negativity and accusations. Earlier that day, Trump went on a tirade against Bezos and Amazon. He suggested that Bezos purchased the Washington Post “for purposes of keeping taxes down” at Amazon. He restated the same basic idea three times over, and Bezos, who has a reputation to protect, was not pleased — though he did not respond to the direct accusations.
Bezos’s response, in full, was as follows:
Commenters were quick to clarify that it should be a one-way trip, or a test rocket, or anything that guaranteed Trump would not just travel to space, but stay there. But on Thursday, Bezos was singing a different tune. Given Bezos’s ambitions, it’s understandable. It’s just not clear how forgiving Trump is.
Bezos’s goal, he says, is to get humans to space, much like SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Trump, who will soon be Commander in Chief, will preside over space policy. He’s said nothing to suggest an anti-private enterprise approach to space exploration; on the contrary, he seems to support public-private cooperation. But there’s nothing to prevent a Trump administration from favoring one company over another — SpaceX, say, over Blue Origin. If Trump is resolute in his vendettas, Bezos should be worried.
In the past, however, Trump’s quoted Bezos, evidently finding inspiration in Bezos’s words.
It’s an odd relationship, and has significant implications for our chances to get to Mars. If Trump doesn’t forgive Bezos, and accept his congratulations, then perhaps Bezos will redirect some of his funds to the brewing Silicon Valley secession movement.