Blue Origin is not simply a side project for CEO Jeff Bezos. The man basically sells $1 billion in Amazon stock a year and reinvests that money into his spaceflight company. And he’s bullish that it’s a “robust” business model, he told attendees at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs on Wednesday.

He better be — he also mentioned it costs $2.5 billion to build the company’s upcoming New Glenn orbital rocket.

Bezos’ talk had quite the spectacular backdrop. Before Elon Musk and SpaceX managed to launch and land a rocket on the ground, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin had already been there, done that. The company flew its flagship New Shepard booster into suborbital space five times — and landed it on the ground for four times — before an in-flight abort test in October rendered the whole thing too damaged to fly ever again. Miraculously, however, the booster still remained intact, and Bezos decided to show off the whole thing in front of the Broadmoor hotel’s conference center and exhibit hall, which hosted this year’s symposium.

Beside the rocket was a full-scale model of the company’s spiffy new passenger capsule, which Bezos hopes to use to fly tourists into space sometime next year.

Besides all that, Bezos reiterated that the key to making spaceflight more accessible to the world’s population was to bring costs down. And he’s looking forward to the way competition between companies can help create avenues for more affordable technologies.

story continues below

“Of course, we’ll be just as competitive,” Bezos said. “But how do you compete? When people say that an entrant is disruptive in an industry, what they really mean is that customers are adopting that new way.”

That’s critical when you notice exactly how high the costs for the company’s rockets are, like the $2.5 billion tag for New Glenn. Making sure the architecture is reusable again and again is the only way the company can sustain itself over time.

But of course, the company is doomed if it believes it needs to do whatever it takes to come out on top — and Bezos knows that. “I always remind the team is that we are not racing,” he said. “We are going to test it. We will put humans on this when it is ready and not a second sooner.”

Photos via Blue Origin