Former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine on launch of Bezos, the future of space travel

The future of space innovation will be controlled by companies, former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNBC on Tuesday, shortly after Jeff Bezos became the second founder of a space company to go in. space.

“These business entrepreneurs are making huge strides that will transform humanity and move us further in space,” Bridenstine said on “Squawk on the Street”. “The future will be manned, commercially owned and operated space stations.”

Bridenstine, who headed the US space agency during the Trump administration, also said that the microgravity environment in space, in which people or objects appear to be weightless, is an “extremely valuable resource” that can be used to prepare pharmaceuticals, create vaccines, advanced manufacturing, and innovations such as the creation of an artificial human retina for the eyeball.

“There are all kinds of abilities you can do in microgravity that you can’t do in Earth’s gravity well,” Bridenstine said. “This has huge implications for the market, and we are only now beginning to understand what they are.”

Bridenstine’s remarks came as Blue Origin launched its first crewed space flight Tuesday morning, with its founder, Bezos, on board. Nine days ago, Richard Branson was the first founder of a billionaire space company to fly into suborbital space. He did it on a spaceship from his company Virgin Galactic. Elon Musk, founder of a third commercial space company, SpaceX, has not yet been to space. Musk is also CEO of electric car maker Tesla.

These missions are led by “entrepreneurs who invest their own money. They don’t get billions and billions of dollars from the federal government to help develop their product here,” said Bridenstine, currently a senior advisor to the capital firm. investment Acorn Growth Cos. “The goal for all of these people is to cut costs and increase access and to really do that through innovation.”

Bezos, who also started Amazon, is one of seven billionaires, including Branson and Musk, ushering in a new era of space travel led mostly by keen investors rather than superpower governments.

Private investment in space companies reached $ 4.5 billion in the second quarter of 2021, according to a report by New York-based Space Capital, which is the strongest quarter on record for investment in space infrastructure despite the two space company PSPCs closed during this period. Frame.

Bridenstine credited Bezos with funding Blue Origin’s New Glenn – an orbital rocket slated for launch in Q4 2022 – and the company’s BE-4 engine, which will power the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, in the goal of ending America’s dependence on Russia for space launches.

The next major step in space exploration will be to return to the moon, Bridenstine said, on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. He said Blue Origin’s Blue Moon spacecraft will finally go. take people to the lunar surface.

“The space is really big. We’re only scratching the surface,” Bridenstine said.

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