Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has a loftier goal than dominating the online retail market — he wants to help colonize space.
Engineers at Blue Origin, a Seattle start-up company funded by Bezos, are working to build low-cost vehicles that would send passengers into space for short flights.
"Then you would proceed from there to other steps, such as perhaps orbital space flights," Bezos told Reuters Tuesday.
Blue Origin seeks to produce a reusable, manned craft similar in function to SpaceShipOne, which punched through Earth's atmosphere last month to win the $10 million Ansari X-Prize for the first privately funded manned space flight.
SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan has teamed up with Virgin Atlantic Airways mogul Richard Branson to offer suborbital flights for space tourists starting in 2007.
Bezos said he has wanted to join the space race since he was a boy growing up in Texas, but has no plans to hitch a ride on Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceliner.
"I very much hope to go up one day, and I think that will happen," Bezos said. "I think I will go up on a Blue Origin vehicle."
According to its Web site, Blue Origin is developing vehicles and technologies that, "over time, will help enable an enduring human presence in space."