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Jeff Bezos at Blue Origin
Billionaire Jeff Bezos strikes a pose beside the copper nozzle for a BE-4 rocket engine at Blue Origin’s production facility in Kent, Wash. (GeekWire photo by Alan Boyle)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gave a small group of journalists, including GeekWire aerospace and science editor Alan Boyle, a guided tour of his Blue Origin rocket factory this week.

BE-3 engine
Blue Origin’s engineers work on the hydrogen-fueled BE-3 engine, which is used on the company’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship. (Credit: Blue Origin)

During this first look at the Kent, Wash., facility, Bezos geeked out over the rockets in development, high-tech robots, and his long and short term plans for space exploration.

“He has a reputation of being kind of a hard driver at work but he really likes to play as well,” said Boyle, reflecting on the experience in the podcast below. “I think this was a day for him to play, to show off all the cool stuff that he’s working on.”

Bezos outlined his ambitious space travel plans during the tour. If he gets his way, Blue Origin will start putting test pilots on the autonomously controlled suborbital spaceship starting next year, then passengers the following year.

The billionaire entrepreneur also outlined plans for what he calls “The Great Inversion.” Bezos believes humanity’s energy needs will extend beyond what the Earth can support. He envisions a future where Earth is preserved as a habitat for humanity and manufacturing is done in space.

Listen below to hear more from Boyle’s up-close look at Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos’ wild plans for space travel.

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