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Inside Politics

Jeff Bezos & Crew Speak After Historic Space Flight. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired July 20, 2021 - 12:00   ET





J. BEZOS: Thank you. Lauren just reminded me. I have one more thing which is - Christina (ph) I might need your help on this. But Mom could you come up for a second? Where is my Mom? OK, you don't have to come up, I can come to you. I have - I wore this - I wear this necklace, I wear this necklace. And it is a Blue Origin feather. And I - up into space and now it's for you. I would put it on myself and I would be my reading glasses. OK.

FOX: And now well last but not least, Amelia Earhart, what a lovely transition, an aviation icon and now an aerospace, a space icon. What was it like?

WALLY FUNK, AVIATOR & OLDEST PERSON TO VISIT SPACE: I can't tell you. I had such a good instructor. He took us through everything that we were going to do. So when I went up this morning, the noise wasn't quite as bad. And we went right on up and I saw darkness.

I thought it was going to see the world but we were quite high enough. And I felt great. It I felt like I was just laying down. I was just laying down. And I was going into space. And I want to thank you sweet heart, because you made it possible for me. I've been waiting a long time to finally get it up there.

And I've done a lot of astronaut training through the world, Russia, America and I could always be the guys on what they were doing because I was growing stronger. I've always done everything on my own. And I didn't do dolls, I did outside stuff.

And I flew airplanes that were 90,000 some hours. I loved it. And I love being here with all of you and your family. And the four of us, we had a great time it was - it was wonderful. I want to go again fast.

And then when I got off the ship, they gave me the tail end of one of the balloons and I'm going to cherish that forever.

J. BEZOS: And by the way, we can confirm that Wally once again in training outperformed the men 100 percent. FOX: I was going to say she beat all the three boys up to the top of the crew - everybody saw that there's video footage. Indeed darling you did. You did? Well, so Wally Funk, now the world's oldest astronauts who have ever gone to space and perhaps the first Founding Member of our Blue Origin Frequent Flyer Program.

FUNK: I was ready for it, when I do lectures or wherever I am around the world, and I'd say I'm only 45.

FOX: You're being generous. I keep saying everybody every time somebody says oh, she's 82. I think there's a typo sure 28 Wally we know this. Well now - well thank you so much for giving us your impressions but let's see with our own eyes. I'd like to roll the tape of what it was like in the--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then everything you thought it would be?

FUNK: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes look, old girl.

FUNK: Yes, I see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moon just comes as--

FUNK: Oh that's great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you move your head a little?

FUNK: Oh, yes. I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The - black this is space and--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you can - leg forward. Who wants to skip around?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is incredible.

FUNK: Oh, I love it. I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I love it too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh well, you forgot to take a moment--

FUNK: Wonderful.



FOX: Well, it was go ahead Mark.

MARK BEZOS, BROTHER OF JEFF BEZOS: Oh, that was a good catch.

FOX: Wally was everything you expected and more, you've been waiting, as you said six years experiences?

FUNK: I loved every minute of it. I just wish it up longer because I had been in space before - I not in space with up in that area and could do a lot more roles and twists and so forth. But there was not quite enough room for all four of us to do all those things. It was great. I love it. I can hardly wait to go again.

VAN JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amen. Next up for you is the moon Wally.

FUNK: Yes, sir.

FOX: Any other impressions now having seen the video of it? Is it one of those things where you just took it in and it's hard to compare the video? What are other sensations that come from having seen that right now?

OLIVER DAEMEN, YOUNGEST PERSON TO VISIT SPACE: Felt - way cooler than that looked.

FOX: Well, so after of course their four minutes of weightlessness, the fun that you had, of course, we got you buckled back in and you descended under those beautiful three parachutes. I think we've got another video here of your descent back to our beautiful West Texas Valley. Why don't we roll that right now?

J. BEZOS: That moment felt pretty good. I'm not going to lie.

M. BEZOS: That's true when you see the three main shoots out that are relaxing.

FUNK: It was so easy. It was just incredible. I didn't feel that.

M. BEZOS: Well, that's because it's actually a test kicked up by a cushion of air that makes you only hit about what it feels like if you were to stand up, you're just going to plop.


FUNK: Oh, my God! It was so thrill.

FOX: What--

M. BEZOS: Our family was happy to see us. That's a good sign.

FOX: What was that moment like coming back in seeing your friends and your family here you have supported them? Or they have supported you that are your dreams to get to this point all over your father's here? Joseph, thank you so much for being here. What was that like?

DAEMEN: Yes, well, he was a bit more emotional than I am would have thoughts, like everyone on grounds was very, very emotional than we were. We were just having fun. M. BEZOS: So true. Yes. Yes, I think that our - our family has been extremely supportive through all of this. And I think that, you know, they're, I know, my wife was an absolute rock leading up to this, which made, you know, the adventure much easier for me, but I know that when we came down, it was sort of time to let those emotions out a little bit.

So it was great to see everybody. And yes, it was a little more emotional than I had anticipated, as well.

FOX: Jeff?

J. BEZOS: Yes. I mean, you know, for I wasn't that nervous, but my family was somewhat anxious about this. And so it was - it was so sweet actually, it wouldn't get hugged by them after lead especially my kids and Lauren, and my mom and dad, and really all of you guys.

And you know we have a bunch of close friends here too. And it just makes me realize how much I love you and how much I'm loved.

FOX: And while your friend Mary is here--

FUNK: Yes, I am so happy she's here. She knows what I'm going through. She's been through - she was one of my flight students. And I've had many, many, four or five or 3000 flight students and I don't know if they're going to get to see this or not.

But I felt so charged. I was not there. I was I was just normal, normal person going up into space. And that's what I wanted to feel nothing here.

J. BEZOS: I can confirm that Wally was never nervous. She was - she was wondering what was taking so long. It's true. We had a six minute hold on the pad. And Wally was like are we going to go or not? What the hell? We're burning daylight. Let's go.

FOX: But then Wally, once we got you going, we got you going fast going over Mac III. And it's this beautiful rocket behind us here our new Shepard Rocket that got the team up to space. And by the way, it also of course made its landing back on the landing pad. Why don't we take a look at that, that landing that we have here?



J. BEZOS: That was a bull's eye.

FOX: Absolutely, bull's eye. Jeff, a beautiful piece of engineering that our team here at Blue Origin has developed. Would you like to talk to us a little bit - a bit about why we chose vertical takeoff, vertical landing, being powered by this BE3 engine? Because today is not the end, right? We're going further with this technology?

J. BEZOS: That's a helpful question. Because the fact of the matter is that the architecture and the technology we have chosen is complete overkill for suborbital tourism mission. We have chosen the vertical landing architecture. Why do we do that, because it scales.

It's an architecture that can grow to a very large size. And so we want to have - we want to have experience with architectures that can go big to go to New Glenn in one day to new Armstrong. So to have the idea that you want to build big from the beginning lets you choose architecture is the whole point of doing this is to get practice.

And other kinds of architectures don't scale, in the same way too large - to very large size vertical learning does. In fact, you can think about it very easily. Because if you try to, when you are landing a rocket vertically, you are solving what's called the inverted pendulum problem.

And you were balancing a broomstick on the tip of your finger, and you can balance a broomstick on the tip of your finger, you know what you cannot balance on the tip of your finger, a pencil. So basically, the smaller the object, the harder it is to balance.

As the object gets bigger and bigger and bigger, it gets easier and easier and easier to balance. It's a very simple because this has more, more, more momentum, so it's easier to get under it so that architecture skills, that's why we chose it.

And then the second thing that is a very puzzling architecture choice for most people who know a lot about rockets, you would never choose liquid hydrogen for a suborbital tourism mission. It's completely unnecessary. It's the most powerful, highest performing rocket fuel in the world.

And there are two reasons we chose it. The first is, again, practice, we chose that propellant, because we - it is what you see behind me is basically the second stage of New Glenn. And so every time we fly this tourism mission, we're practicing flying the second stage of New Glenn.

And that's where you really do want hydrogen on the second stage of a vehicle that is designed not only to go into low Earth orbit, but to bodies outside of low Earth orbit. And then the reason we chose it is because it is the most environmentally benign propellant, you can't choose.

When you burn hydrogen and oxygen, you get H2O. H2O is water. And it's so that is another thing for a tourism mission. That was really important to us as well. So that's why we chose this architecture you see behind me, and the engineering team did an incredible job.

They also really built two vehicles, what you see is not really a vehicle, because I could assure the escape system was at least as complicated, hard to design, and to test and demonstrate as the main booster itself. So that was it's almost like building whole separate vehicle. And I'm also extremely happy we didn't test it today.

FOX: Thank you so much. Again, congratulations to you all. With that, I'm going to turn it over to Linda Mills, Head of Communications here at Blue Origin to start the press conference. Thank you very much. LINDA MILLS, VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS, BLUE ORIGIN: Let's give another round of applause to our amazing, newly minted astronauts. Right, I would like to give a thank you to our journalists who showed up at 2:30 this morning to get set up. I know it's been a long day for all of you.

J. BEZOS: Thank you. I can't believe you guys are still smiling. Thank you.

M. BEZOS: Thank you.

MILLS: So we'll be able to take a few questions and then we'll pause for a few photos. So Rachel, why don't you start Rachel, at CNN?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rachel from CNN. Congratulations, you guys on your astronaut wings.

J. BEZOS: Thank you, Rachel.

CRANE: Jeff, you have said in the past the work you're doing Blue Origin is the most important of your career. You've recently stepped down as CEO of Amazon, can we expect for you to be more hands on with Blue Origin? Is this going to be your new focus?

J. BEZOS: Yes. So I'm going to split my time between Blue Origin and the Basis Earth Fund. The Basis Earth Fund is about climate change and sustainability. And that is - those two things and there's going to be a third thing and maybe a fourth thing, but I don't know what those are yet. I'm not very good at doing one thing.


CRANE: Are you going to be flying again soon?

J. BEZOS: Is it - hell yes. How fast could refuel that thing? Let's go.

MILLS: Alright, next question. Let's go Reuters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two quick questions. One is what are you playing around with lunches as far as the --? Second you talked about - mentioned, walk us through some of the technical aspects of it. Thank you.

MILLS: So Eric asked about the cadence and the capabilities.

J. BEZOS: OK, we're going to fly the human missions twice more this year. And what we do in the following year, I'm not sure yet, we'll figure that out and what the cadence will eventually be, we want the cadence to be very high.

And one thing we've found out through the auction process, and what we've been doing is private sales, we're approaching $100 million in private sales already. And the demand is very, very high. So we're going to keep after that, because we really do want to practice with this vehicle. So we're going to have to build more, more booster - more boosters,

and to fly more frequently. And we're going to be doing that and working on all the operational things we need to do all the things we learned. What practice does is let you get better.

And we want to be able right now, you know, we have a mission life, we think some time, it should be somewhere between 25 and 100 flights for one of these vehicles, we'd like to make that you know, closer to 125. And then once it's close to 100, we'll push it past 100.

That's how you get operational use, really, you have to remember, big things start small. I told this crew, when we got in today, we were sitting there on the pad waiting to lift off. We had time to ourselves. And I said, guys, if you - if you're willing, if you let me invite you, when we get up there.

And after, you know there are all kinds of adrenaline, all kinds of excitement and novelty. But take a minute, take a few seconds to look out and calmly think about what we're doing is not only adventure, it is adventure, and it is fun.

But it's also important, because what we're doing is the first step of something big. And I know what that feels like? I did it three decades ago, almost three decades ago, with Amazon. And we are big things start small. And you - but you can tell. You can tell when you're onto something. And this is important.

We're going to build a road space so that our kids and their kids can build the future. And we need to do that. We need to do that to solve the problems here on Earth. This is not about escaping Earth every time I read an article about people wanting to escape Earth.

No, no, no, no, that's the whole point is, this is the mode - this is the only good planet in this solar system. We've sent robotic probes to all of them, this is the only good one, I promise you that we have to take care of it. And when you go into space and see how fragile it is, you'll want to take care of it even more.

And that's what this is about. We have to take and this is going to take decades. This is a big vision. But big things start small. And this is how it starts. And we are going to build an infrastructure.

Just like when I started Amazon, I didn't have to build the postal service, or Royal Mail or Deutsche Post, there are people - there already gigantic worldwide infrastructure to deliver packages. That infrastructure today is for space just way too expensive and it doesn't work.

But if we can practice with this suborbital tourism mission to continue and build bigger and bigger vehicles, timelines on New Armstrong, and so I can't really get because we don't know. But what I can tell you is we're going to keep working at those things step by step ferociously. And I want to emphasize the ferociously.

MILLS: All right. We have time for one last question Tom Costello with NBC? TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Tom Costello, with NBC News. Congratulations to all of you, Jeff, to follow up on that - on that question and your discussion there? How do you make this more reasonable for everyday people who would like to fly, but it's pretty steep right now? How do you bring the cost down so that this can be more accessible for everybody?

J. BEZOS: It is a great question. How do you bring the cost down over time, so it's more accessible to everyone? You've got to do it the same way we did it with commercial airline travel. You know, we are still - we're not even - we're really almost in the barnstormer phase, right?

So this is - these are, you know, buy planes, and they're flying into a farmer's field and charging a small price to fly people around for a few minutes in the air.


J. BEZOS: That's what we're doing right now. But you know where that barnstorming phase leads to 787s. And that's what we have to do.

MILLS: All right, let's give a hand for it. That's all the time we have for questions today. These astronauts have had a very long day. So let's give another round of applause for our astronauts.


MILLS: And Jeff, I have had one more thing.

J. BEZOS: Guys, I have one - I have one more thing, I have a little surprise for you. I am announcing today a new philanthropic initiative. And if you put the slide up so people can see it. It is called "The Courage and Civility Award" that recognizes leaders who aim high and who pursue solutions with courage and always do so with civility.

Now, let me tell you how I feel about this. I feel strongly enough actually wrote something down. We live in a world where sometimes instead of disagreeing with someone's ideas, we question their character, or their motives. And guess what?

After you do that, it's pretty damn hard to work with that person. And really, what we should always be doing is questioning ideas. Not the person. Ad hominem attacks have been around a long time, but they don't work. And they've been amplified by social media.

We need unifiers and not vilify, who people who argue hard and act hard for what they truly believe. But they do that always with civility, and never ad hominem attacks. And unfortunately, we live in a world where this is too often not the case. But we do have role models. And this award - do you have another slide here? Go ahead.

First, what I didn't tell you what the award was yet, I thought there was a slide for that. Here's what the award is. You see who the first recipient is. But let me tell you what the award is. "The Courage and Civility Award" is a $100 million award so that the awardee the recipient, can give $100 million to the charities, the nonprofits of their choice.

And these people - these are people who have demonstrated courage. By the way, it's easy to be courageous, but also mean, try being courageous and civil. Try being courageous and a unifier. That's harder and way better, it makes the world better.

So the - we have two awardees today, they'll each be getting $100 million to direct to the charities of their choice as they see fit, no bureaucracy, no committees notice they just do what they want. They can give it all to their own charity, or they can share the wealth. It's up to them. And the first "Courage and Civility Award" goes to Van Jones. Van come on up.


JONES: Thank you, brother. Sometimes dreams come true. Sometimes dreams come true. And the headlines around the world should be anything's possible if you believe. And Lauren and Jeff don't do nothing small man. They don't do anything small.

They just don't do it. They dream big. They love big. And they bet big. And you bet on me. And I appreciate it. And I'm going to tell you, the only thing I worried about when you say courage. I haven't always been courageous. But I know that people who are and they get up every day on the front lines of grassroots communities, they don't have much.

But they're good people and they fight hard and they don't have enough support. Can you imagine grassroots folk from Appalachia from the Hood, Native American reservations, having enough money to be able to connect with the geniuses that have disrupted the space industry disrupted taxis and hotels and bookstores to start disrupting poverty to start disrupting pollution, to start disrupting the $90 billion present industry together.


You take people on the frontlines and their wisdom and their genius and their creativity and you give them a shot. They're not just going to turn around neighbors; they're going to turn around this nation. That's what's going to happen. And I appreciate you for lifting the ceiling off of people's dreams. You have lifted the ceilings off of the dreams of humanity today.

And that's an important thing. Don't be mad about it when you see somebody reaching for the heavens, be glad, because a lot more heaven up there to reach for. And we can do that together. And the last thing I'll say is this.

It this small group of people can make miracles happen in outer space. A bigger group of people can make miracles happen down here, and we're going to do it. Thank you very much.

J. BEZOS: Hey, guys, could you roll a little video we put together about Van Jones, can you roll that little video, please, a short video?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Van has been a part of much change. He has birthed a number of different grassroots community organizations. He also helped us bring together climate justice and racial justice. And what that meant, in particular, for low income communities of color?

JONES: You can't live in a country where you just have sacrifice zones, whether it's juggernaut South Central, or Appalachia, or the Rust Belt, and no political party stands up from the fact that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMLE: He was always so ahead of the curve that a lot of people didn't understand him. So that was always hard to watch because I know, his love for people and for justice. It doesn't matter to him what people say he continues to do the work that needs to be done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think about what he's done within climate justice system, what he's done with making bipartisanship real, not just what think tanks are doing, researching the idea, not exploring in history, how bipartisanship worked? He's been rolling up the sleeves. He's been doing the work in real life.


J. BEZOS: I know that Van Jones is going to do something amazing with that $100 million. I don't know what yet, but he doesn't know what yet? But it's in your hands Van Jones, however going to do it is going to work.

We had lunch together a couple weeks ago. And he told me that he was just telling me some of his life story. And you mentioned that when he was a young activist, he was angry. He had just like, there's a big transformation that happened over the years.

He said, that is the acronym that he used was rap, super reward and punishment. And if the mayor or whoever it was that they were going up against did something they like they rewarded them. And if they did something they didn't like they punished them.

And he said, honestly, Jeff, I wasn't very good at the reward part. I really focused on the punishment part. And then he changed. I mean, he really - the transformation when you hear his story is unbelievable and profound and inspiring.

And you can always and I think about this for myself, you wake up every night when you go to sleep; you get the chance to wake up better tomorrow. Now we have another awardee. Let's roll that video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jose Andres calls himself a pilgrim from Spain, a chef who arrived here 20 years ago with just 50 bucks in his pocket. But these days, it's hard to call him anything less than an amazing American success story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His love of his fellow men and women, his love of eating which he shares with all of us. He is bigger than life, a force of nature, and a real gift.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --starred chef who has won James Beard Awards for both outstanding chef and humanitarian of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jose Andres is turning several of his D.C. in New York City restaurants, into community kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has helped feed those in disaster areas in the U.S. and around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time I meet you, it's because there's a disaster somewhere in the world. And like a superhero of food you've stepped in to help feed people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants to bring people together and he uses food to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone who is extremely generous and give back so much to people in need without asking anything.

J. BEZOS: Jose please come on up.


J. BEZOS: He makes a hell of a pie too. I'll tell you.

JOSE ANDRES, SPANISH CHEF: You know, I'm so honored, really grateful for this award and--