BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world and founder of Amazon, as well as the space company Blue Origin, defended his spending of $ 1 billion a year on space travel on Friday night in front of a receptive, Crowd full of stars.
The occasion was the 16th annual Living Legends of Aviation awards ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton hotel with John Travolta as host and Harrison Ford as one of the famous presenters. The event, produced as a fundraiser for the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, honors those who have made significant contributions to aviation.
Bezos received a triple dose of recognition, thanks to his addition to the Living Legends lineup, in addition to his acceptance of the Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award and a newly created honor called Jeff Bezos Freedom & # 39; s Wings Award.
After receiving the Freedom & # 39; s Wings trophy from Airbus CEO Tom Enders, Bezos sat down for one of his traditional chats at the fireplace. At one point, Bezos was asked why he should spend money on space exploration rather than on earthly matters that needed solution.
The question addressed the controversy that Bezos faced last year after telling an interviewer that Blue Origin, which he is supporting for a sum of one billion dollars a year, was clbadified as "the most important job I am doing."
Since then, Bezos and his future ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, created a $ 2 billion Day One Fund to focus on helping homeless families and improving preschool education. At the Beverly Hills ceremony, the billionaire gave a nuanced summary of his spending philosophy.
"If you take the whole picture, you should spend money here on Earth," he said. "There are many important goals here on Earth that we must do here and now. The real question is that it should not be framed as an option or one or the other. "You also have to spend some money on things that are 10 years out, 20 years out, 50 years out, 100 years out."
Bezos said he wants to have "a whole diversified portfolio of trying to do the right thing."
Airbus blew up the "Living Legends of Aviation Awards" in Beverly Hills! @Jeff Bezos It was included in the Living Legends of Aviation by our CEO Tom Enders. Jeff is joined by our former CCO John Leahy and Jim Payne, @PerlanProject 2 main pilot A bright night! ✨ pic.twitter.com/hTb0gzxA0h
– Airbus (@Airbus) January 19, 2019
Blue Origin plays an important role in that long-range portfolio. The company is working on a suborbital spacecraft called New Shepard, an orbital clbad rocket called New Glenn, a new generation of rocket engines called BE-4, and a concept of a moon landing called Blue Moon.
New Shepard and suborbital space flights, including pbadenger flights, represent the first step because "the frequency of those missions can be very high", providing much practice for more challenging missions, said Bezos.
The next unmanned test flight from New Shepard is scheduled for Monday, and Bezos said the program was on track to start flying later this year. He referred indirectly to the fact that over the years, the Blue Origin development program has slipped to the right.
"I rarely trust that we will fly this year," Bezos joked. "I often trust that we will fly next year." I continue to tell the team that this is not a race, "we are going to do this well and safely."
Blue Origin is expected to start launching its New Glenn orbital rocket in the 2021 timeframe, and could send its Blue Moon lander to the lunar surface from 2023, baduming the project gets NASA support.
Bezos said that "the moon is fundamental to the future we imagine in Blue Origin", because it is the closest possibility of settlement outside the Earth. He mentioned the possibilities of building settlements sustained by water ice deposits in the deep craters of the moon, and suggested that it could be a stepping stone for Mars, as well as artificial homes and factories in space known as O'Neill habitats.
"It's time to go back to the moon, and this time to stay." When we do that, we'll find a very useful place to build all kinds of things we'll use to explore the solar system, "he said.
A big greeting to the Living Legends of Aviation. You put on a hellish gala. pic.twitter.com/b4BJiOeeVpE
– Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) January 19, 2019
Bezos echoed previous comments he made about the need to place heavy, energy-intensive industry in space so that the Earth can be zoned for light industrial and residential use.
"If you want to protect the Earth, save the Earth, we have to go to space," he said. "This is not an option, it may seem like an option, but that's only because we have not reached that point yet – if you wait until it's obvious to everyone, it will be too late."
Bezos argued against the idea, often promoted by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, that Mars should be the first focus of settlement outside Earth.
"I have long opposed the idea of going to Mars first," he said. "I am a supporter of placing the moon first. Going to Mars first would be to skip steps. And by the way, Mars is not enough. [Settling Mars] At most, it would double the population of the Earth. We really need to discover how to build space colonies in the O'Neill style. "
Referring to the Wings of Freedom Award, Bezos repeated his opinion that keeping humanity confined to the Earth would eventually lead to limits to growth and "stagnation" for the species.
"If someone tells you how many children you can have and how much energy you can use, that does not sound like freedom," said Bezos. "What seems to me freedom is to move towards the solar system, where we have, for all practical purposes, unlimited energy, unlimited resources. We would have a trillion humans in the solar system, and then we would have a thousand Mozarts and a thousand Einsteins. That is the world in which I want the grandchildren of my grandchildren to live. "
Returning to Earth, here are some of the Hollywood angles of the event:
- The celebrity websites highlighted the fact that this was Bezos' first outstanding appearance since he and MacKenzie Bezos announced that they were ending their 25-year marriage. There were no references to Bezos' private life at the ceremony, of course, and Lauren Sanchez, a former television host and helicopter pilot with whom Bezos has had a romantic relationship, was not seen.
- During his opening remarks at the ceremony, a soft joke Travolta said he had many things in common with Bezos. In addition to loving aviation and the cloud, "we both made the decision to shave," said Travolta. After the event, Travolta was harbaded by autograph seekers outside the back door of the Beverly Hilton. Bezos, on the other hand, made a clean escape.
- Among the other honorees of the evening was Kenny G, the Seattle-born saxophonist and aviator aviator who obtained his pilot's license 30 years ago. One of the biggest laugh lines came when he reviewed his long-term relationships. "In fact, I've had the same De Havilland Beaver for 25 years," he said. "I've had the same saxophone since high school … It really means, with the saxophone, if you blow something for 40 years, you're going to stay together."