Ex-NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the launch of Bezos, the way forward for area journey

The future of space innovation is 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 into space.

“These commercial entrepreneurs are taking giant strides that will transform humanity and bring more of us into space,” Bridenstine said on Squawk on the Street. “The future will be manned space stations that are commercially owned and operated.”

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 weightless, is an “enormously valuable resource” used in the manufacture of medicines, the manufacture of immunizations , advanced manufacturing, and innovations such as the creation of an artificial human retina for the eyeball.

“There are all kinds of skills you can achieve in microgravity that you can’t do in Earth’s gravity well,” Bridenstine said. “This is having a huge impact on the market and we are only just beginning to understand what they are.”

Bridenstine’s remarks came when Blue Origin launched its first manned spaceflight Tuesday morning with its founder Bezos on board. Nine days ago Richard Branson flew into suborbital space as the first billionaire founder of a space company. He did it on one of his Virgin Galactic spaceships. Elon Musk, the founder of a third commercial space company, SpaceX, has not yet been to space. Musk was also a co-founder of the electric car maker Tesla.

These missions are led by “entrepreneurs who invest their own money. They don’t get billions of dollars from the federal government to develop their product here,” said Bridenstine, currently senior advisor at private equity firm Acorn Growth Companies. “The goal of all of these people is to cut costs and improve access, and really through innovation.”

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

Private investments in space companies hit $ 4.5 billion in the second quarter of 2021, according to a report by New York-based Space Capital. This is the strongest quarter for space infrastructure investments, despite the fact that only two space company SPACs have closed during this period.

Bridenstine praised Bezos for funding Blue Origin’s New Glenn – an orbital rocket slated to launch in the fourth quarter of 2022 – and the company’s BE-4 engine, which will power the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, to avoid American addiction from Russia to exit space launches.

The next big step in space exploration will be a return to the moon, Bridenstine said on the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing. He said that Blue Origin’s Blue Moon spacecraft will ultimately bring humans to the lunar surface.

“Space is really big. We’re just scratching the surface,” said Bridenstine.

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