The Amazon founder pushed back on criticism that launching rockets was a vanity project for billionaires.
After his successful flight to space, Jeff Bezos pushed back on criticism that launching rockets was a vanity project for billionaires, saying that the future of the planet — and those who inhabit it — depends on what can be accomplished in space.
"I think people don't understand it, or most people don't," Bezos told CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King in an exclusive interview after he landed back on Earth Tuesday. "When you get into space and you can see the Earth's atmosphere, it's so thin and fragile looking. So we do have to take care of this planet. And right now it's just true that our civilization is — we pollute the planet."
He sees space as a potential solution.
"This sounds fantastical, what I'm about to tell you, but it will happen. We can move all heavy industry and all polluting industry off of Earth and operate it in space," he said.
It will take decades to get there, Bezos acknowledged, but he cited the technological advances that have happened since the Wright Brothers took their first flight in 1903.
"If you told somebody, 'One day there will be a 787,' it would seem fantastical. But that is what happens. And we do need to move heavy industry off Earth. Because this is the best planet. We've been to all the planets in this solar system with robotic probes — this is the good one," Bezos said.
Bezos, who is 57, said he knows it will take longer than his lifetime.
"What Blue Origin can do is build a space vehicle that is so operable and commercial and inexpensive that it becomes the infrastructure that the next generation can use to take those big steps," he said.
The Amazon and Blue Origin founder insisted that his efforts in space are not in competition with fellow billionaire Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, who launched himself into space nine days before Bezos. Both companies plan to start filling spaceflights with wealthy passengers in the near future.
"It is not a competition," Bezos said, adding that he believes there will be hundreds or even thousands of entrepreneurial space companies in the future. "They compete against each other, but there can be many winners."
This story was originally published by CBS News on July 21, 2021 at 7:31 a.m. ET.