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posted by martyb on Sunday February 24 2019, @03:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the circular-reasoning dept.

Jeff Bezos just gave a private talk in New York. From utopian space colonies to dissing Elon Musk's Martian dream, here are the most notable things he said.

  • Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, gave a talk to a members-only event at the Yale Club in New York on Tuesday.
  • During the 30-minute lecture, Bezos said his private aerospace company, Blue Origin, would launch its first people into space aboard a New Shepard rocket in 2019.
  • Bezos also questioned the capabilities of a space tourism competitor, Virgin Galactic, and criticized the goal of Elon Musk and SpaceX to settle Mars with humans.
  • Ultimately, Bezos said he wants Blue Origin to enable a space-faring civilization where "a Mark Zuckerberg of space" and "1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins" can flourish.
  • Bezos advised the crowd to hold a powerful, personal long-term vision, but to devote "the vast majority of your energy and attention" on shorter-term activities and those ranging up to 2- or 3-year timeframes.

[...] Bezos: I don't think we'll live on planets, by the way. I think we'll live in giant O'Neal[sic]-style space colonies. Gerard O'Neil, decades ago, came up with this idea. He asked his physics students at Princeton a very simple question, but a very unusual one, which is: Is a planetary surface the right place for humanity to expand in the solar system? And after doing a lot of work, they came back and decided the answer was "no." There's a fascinating interview with Isaac Asimov, Gerard O'Neill, and their interviewer that you can find on YouTube from many decades ago. And to Asimov, the interviewer says, "Why do you think we're so focused, then, on expanding onto other planetary surfaces?" And Asimov says, "That's simple. We grew up on a planet, we're planet chauvinists."

But the space colonies we'll build will have many advantages. The primary one is that they'll be close to Earth. The transit time and the amount of energy required to move between planets is so high. But if you have giant space colonies that are energetically close and, in terms of travel time close to Earth, then people will be able to come and go. Very few people are going to want to leave this planet permanently — it's just too amazing.

Ultimately what will happen, is this planet will be zoned residential and light industry. We'll have universities here and so on, but we won't do heavy industry here. Why would we? This is the gem of the solar system. Why would we do heavy industry here? It's nonsense.

And so over time — of course you have to today — but over time that transition will happen very naturally. It'll even be the business-smart thing to do because the energy and resources will be so much cheaper off-planet that industries will naturally gravitate to those lower-cost environments.

Previously: Jeff Bezos' Vision for Space: One Trillion Population in the Solar System
Jeff Bezos Details Moon Settlement Ambitions in Interview

Related: Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin Expects to Sell Tickets for Manned Suborbital Flights in 2019
Blue Origin Wins Contract to Supply United Launch Alliance With BE-4 Rocket Engines
New Shepard Makes 10th Launch as Blue Origin Aims to Fly Humans Late in 2019
Blue Origin Starts Construction of Rocket Engine Factory in Alabama
Blue Origin to Provide Multiple Orbital Launches for Telesat


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday February 24 2019, @06:08PM (10 children)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday February 24 2019, @06:08PM (#805993) Journal

    They could also be built using redundant safety systems. Make it so that vacuum or atmospheric (Mars) breach in one unit/room doesn't affect other units/rooms. Flame retardant systems to prevent burning everything down. Build habitats and buildings that are separated from each other. Have backup or primary power systems connected to each facility. Have two of critical buildings such as greenhouses. Have entire separate colonies on opposite poles or other locations. Have emergency rations and first aid kits in every facility/room.

    Otherwise, you can either strictly monitor incoming travelers for weapons, or give everyone some kind of weapon. Have a surveillance state so that nobody can easily build a bomb or other deadly chemical (like thermite or acid to eat away at the walls while the perp is wearing a spacesuit. But with the aforementioned safety measures, you can at least ensure that a lone Martian suicide bomber can't destroy the entire colony in one action.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by HiThere on Sunday February 24 2019, @07:40PM (5 children)

    by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Sunday February 24 2019, @07:40PM (#806013) Journal

    Redundant safety systems are a must, and also insufficient. They don't even work in simple hostile environments if people are unhappy enough. And the harsher the environment, the truer that is. Giving everyone a weapon is foolish. Probably giving anyone a weapon designed to forcibly puncture a life support system is foolish.

    This is mainly about space colonies, but it partially applies to colonies on Mars: What you're going to need is a surveillance state that works to prevent people being too unhappy. But people need to feel freedom, or they get unhappy, so an improved virtual reality is a real necessity. In virtual reality you can let people act however they want to. You still need to monitor them in physical space. It may turn out that some people need to be prescribed particular virtual reality games. Or perhaps not. With lots of really small colonies the failures will eliminate themselves.

    The reason the previous point was mainly about space colonies is that the environment in space is a lot more hostile (in a passive sort of way). The air pressure difference is greater, it's harder to replace any lost air, etc. Also until massive fabrication happens in space, it's going to be a lot easier and cheaper to have massive redundant safety systems where you don't need to lift the original material out of a gravity well.

    The reason for considering ballistic weapons foolish within a pressurized environment is that you're going to need chemical processing and large amounts of electric power no matter what you do. Bombs will be readily feasible without importing any material. Locked doors are vastly more important than guns. If you do have projectile weapons, it needs to be something like tear gas, but you'd better have a really good air filtration system.

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    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Monday February 25 2019, @12:07AM (4 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 25 2019, @12:07AM (#806090) Journal
      Or it just might not be a big deal. It's worth noting that there's plenty of opportunity to go suicide on the neighbors all the time in today's world. It just doesn't happen very often despite allegedly less stable political and societal systems and all that.

      The reason for considering ballistic weapons foolish within a pressurized environment is that you're going to need chemical processing and large amounts of electric power no matter what you do.

      Which is available else you wouldn't have a human presence in the first place.

      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday February 25 2019, @04:54AM (3 children)

        by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 25 2019, @04:54AM (#806205) Journal

        Yes, but it means it's going to be relatively easy to build explosive devices. You can even do it with just LOX and ground carbon.

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        • (Score: 1, Disagree) by khallow on Monday February 25 2019, @05:18AM (2 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 25 2019, @05:18AM (#806210) Journal

          Yes, but it means it's going to be relatively easy to build explosive devices. You can even do it with just LOX and ground carbon.

          It's even easier now. We don't see a lot of explosions.

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday February 25 2019, @05:04PM (1 child)

            by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 25 2019, @05:04PM (#806399) Journal

            The thing is, with a benign external environment small explosions don't do that much damage. With a really hostile environment, even a small breach of containment can be fatal for everyone. Or at least so expensive that it can never be repaired. (Economics *always* enters into it.)

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            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday February 25 2019, @05:21PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 25 2019, @05:21PM (#806413) Journal

              With a really hostile environment, even a small breach of containment can be fatal for everyone.

              Unless you engineer against that.

              Or at least so expensive that it can never be repaired.

              Engineering fixes that too.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24 2019, @07:53PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24 2019, @07:53PM (#806019)

    I think people have a very wrong idea about what living in one of these would be like. People seem to think it would be like living in a giant version of the ISS. It would be much more like living in a town, or even a small country, with a variety of jobs and a pretty ordinary society. You certainly couldn't shoot a hole in one with a gun, and any bomb capable of doing structural damage would look more like a construction project than a terrorist attack.

    You can't go wrong with Isaac Arthur [youtube.com] for discussions of this sort of topic.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday February 24 2019, @08:09PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday February 24 2019, @08:09PM (#806022) Journal

      One proposal would be to land Bigelow inflatable modules on the Moon. That would certainly be like the ISS, and have similar hazards.

      Even on Mars, if your habitat gets damaged, you need to stick on a space suit in order to live. In a small town or village on Earth, you can always exit your living quarters after a few seconds and start running away.

      I think we will not have many problems as long as these colonies are at the scale of ~5 people to McMurdo Station sized. Most of the people there would be scientists doing lots of geological work, not people who paid $500k to live on Mars and do whatever. Attention is already being paid to the potential psychological problems that these manned planetary science missions would encounter. Starship can offer a lot more living space and a faster direct-to-Mars journey which can cut down on problems. So we have reasons to be optimistic.

      Here's a fun article [wikipedia.org].

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25 2019, @03:28AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25 2019, @03:28AM (#806183)

        Still thinking way too small. The question is not "what's the first space colony that can possibly be built" but rather "what does a space colony that lots of people can live in look like?" Long term plans, not short term. You won't necessarily build an O'Neill cylinder right away, although they are designed to be buildable with current technology.

        But you might. It depends on how good your robots are at building things.

        Once you realize that farming can be done more easily in a space habitat than on any planet or moon except Earth, and that mining is better done on asteroids, it turns out that there's not much reason to actually go to a planet except to do science there. And with the possibility of contaminating the planet you are trying to study, there might be no reason to go there at all.

        Living on Mars, or even the Moon, is better than just staying on Earth forever. It's just not as good as living in space stations.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday February 25 2019, @03:22AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 25 2019, @03:22AM (#806179) Journal

    Flame retardant systems to prevent burning everything down.

    Just release more oxygen into the enclosed air and quite a bit of things that were thought as non-flammable at normal oxygen concentration will start burning. Something like the lubricants in your door locks and hinges? [miningquiz.com]

    And things that will burn slowly will just explode (PDF warning - see page 5) [airproducts.com]

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