Who Needs Exoplanets? Amazon Billionaire Jeff Bezos Has Reimagined Space Colonies... And They Are Incredible

Tuesday, 14 May 2019 - 9:45AM
Science of Sci-Fi
Tuesday, 14 May 2019 - 9:45AM
Who Needs Exoplanets? Amazon Billionaire Jeff Bezos Has Reimagined Space Colonies... And They Are Incredible
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Image courtesy of Blue Origin
In the wake of Blue Origin's announcement last week that it had developed a lunar lander (named Blue Moon, naturally) and plans to visit the moon in 2024 with human test flights to come later this year, an even more exciting idea was revealed by billionaire founder Jeff Bezos: the prospect of non-planetary, self-contained space colonies that could support millions of humans in cities built in artificial environments. The as-yet-publicly-unnamed habitat project was announced by Bezos himself at an invite-only press event in Washington D.C., where he unveiled artist's conceptions of the massive habitats.


Image courtesy of Blue Origin

"If we're out in the solar system," Bezos said, addressing those assembled, "we can have a trillion humans in the solar system – which means we'd have thousands (of) Mozarts and a thousand Einsteins. This would be an incredible civilization." Housing and feeding a trillion humans, of course, would be no mean feat, especially as each of our attempts to find suitable exoplanets to colonize continues to come up short in the habitability department. If the concept art is to be believed, then the answer, at least to Bezos, lies in O'Neill Cylinders: the massive, rotating cylindrical colonies envisioned and designed by the late Princeton University physicist and Space Studies Institute founder Gerard K. O'Neill, who Bezos studied under while pursuing his undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science at Princeton. 


Image courtesy of Blue Origin

There would be no shortcuts to the completion of such a project. In order to contain entire cities and their populations the proposed cylinders would have to be massive, with an especially resilient technology to power an infrastructure robust enough to provide what the Earth does naturally.


Image courtesy of Blue Origin

Unlike our temperamental mother planet, however, Bezos imagines that these worlds-in-miniature would possess an "ideal climate... like Maui on its best day, all year long." Moreover, technology would allow for entire worlds – or perhaps just cities – build for living out some of our most primal fantasies. "Some of them would be more recreational – they don't all have to have the same gravity – they can have a recreational one that keeps it zero-g so you can go flying with your own wings," Bezos said, further mentioning that travel between colonies would be as simple as a "day trip."  


Image courtesy of Blue Origin

What is most compelling about Bezos' vision for the future is its sheer size. "For all of human history, the Earth has felt big to us," Bezos said last week. "And, actually, in a really correct sense, it has been big. Humanity has been small. That's not true anymore. The Earth is no longer big. Humanity is big."


Fortunately, as Bezos demonstrates, humanity's dreams loom even larger.

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