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Jeff Bezos is now devoting his time to building multi-billion dollar rockets. Here's how his space company, Blue Origin, hopes to colonize the solar system.
Kate Duffy Updated Jul 20, 2021, 7:48 AM
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
Jeff Bezos is focusing more on his space firm, Blue Origin, now he's stepped down as Amazon CEO.
Blue Origin, founded by Bezos in 2000, aims to transform space travel and colonize the solar system.
The company's first human mission flew Bezos and three crewmates to space on July 20.
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Just a month after leaving Amazon, Bezos flew into space onboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket.
It's a sign that, having left Amazon, Bezos is dedicating more time to Blue Origin, the space company he founded in 2000. The company's aim is to transform space travel.
In a letter to Amazon employees in February, Bezos said that as Amazon's executive chairman he would "stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus" on projects such as Blue Origin, the Washington Post, his Day 1 Fund, and the Bezos Earth Fund.
Bezos will therefore be more involved in Blue Origin going forward. The company wants to continue to build more rockets and engines to launch people, and other payloads, beyond Earth's orbit, and to ultimately colonize the solar system.
"We're committed to building a road to space so our children can build the future," the company says on its website.
What is Blue Origin?
Blue Origin is an American aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight company headquartered in Kent, Washington. It's owned by Bezos and is currently headed by CEO Bob Smith. 
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Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, and says it's his 'most important work'
Bezos, the world's second-richest person, founded Blue Origin in September 2000, with the goal of making space travel cheap, frequent, and more accessible, through reusable launch systems.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2019. MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images
Bezos said in a 2018 interview with Axel Springer that the spaceflight company was his "most important work," — more important than Amazon. 
"I'm pursuing this work because I believe if we don't, we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis, which I find very demoralizing," he said.
The billionaire's passion for his space-travel company stems from his childhood. Insider's Dave Mosher reported in 2018 that Bezos spent his childhood summers on his grandparents' large ranch in South Texas learning about machinery. He also went to the local library to read science fiction novels about space exploration.
Blue Origin's motto is "Gradatim Ferociter," Latin for "step by step, ferociously."
Bezos often uses the hashtag in his Instagram posts about the firm.
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What Blue Origin will do next
In July's flight, Bezos flew to the edge of space with three crewmates: his brother Mark; 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk; and 18-year-old Oliver Daeman from the Netherlands. The 11-minute flight was Blue Origin's first crewed mission, and it traveled 62 miles above the Earth's surface.
Blue Origin has a host of projects in the pipeline for Bezos to get stuck into.
NASA greenlighted Blue Origin in December for future Earth observation missions, planetary expeditions, and satellite launches with its New Glenn rocket, taking the space company one step closer to the stars.
In May, Blue Origin was awarded $1 billion from NASA to produce initial designs for a human-landing system for the Artemis 3 mission, which aims to land humans on the moon in 2024. 
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. John Locher/AP and Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images
Blue Origin is competing against Elon Musk's SpaceX and Alabama-based Dynetics to land NASA astronauts on the moon in 2024. Bezos said in an Instagram post in December the company could possibly take the first woman there, too.
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The aerospace firm was also among 17 US companies to be picked by NASA in November to develop new tech for space missions to "the moon and beyond." The selected companies will get access to NASA's testing facilities and expertise, which it valued at about $15.5 million.
The rockets in Blue Origin's pipeline
Bezos is pouring billions into the design, building, and launching of Blue Origin's orbital and suborbital space vehicles. 
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
The company's New Shepard suborbital rocket, named after Alan Shepard, who was the first American to go into space, ultimately aims to offer a 100-kilometer (62-mile) journey above Earth's surface that lasts 11 minutes.
The most recent successful flight of New Shepard was on January 14, when it carried a crash-test dummy named "Mannequin Skywalker" into space.
The New Glenn rocket, named after pioneering astronaut John Glenn, is a 310-foot reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle that can carry payloads to orbit.
Blue Origin said that New Glenn is designed for a minimum of 25 flights, and can lift 45 tons into low-Earth orbit — as a comparison, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy can lift 70 tons into low-Earth orbit. It's expected to be launched in 2021.
In 2019, Bezos unveiled a giant lunar lander called "Blue Moon" that he said is "going to the moon" and would help Blue Origin populate space. The final goal is to establish what the company calls a "sustained human presence" on the moon.
Blue Origin has also developed five rocket engines since its founding - BE-1, BE-2, BE-3, BE-4, and BE-7. In line with the company's reusability objective, the engines are designed for multiple uses and are tested at its test site in Van Horn, Texas.
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