Now the company, based in an industrial area south of Seattle, is waiting to hear whether it can take over one of NASA's crown jewels: Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the first and the last space shuttle flight blasted off. And Bezos is competing with another billionaire, SpaceX's Elon Musk, to get it.
SpaceX is one of the biggest success stories in space nowadays: The company that Musk founded in 2002 with his dot-com fortune has flown three successful unmanned missions to the International Space Station, has dozens of launches on its manifest, and is said to be turning a profit.
Meanwhile, Bezos' Blue Origin has been quietly working for almost 13 years on a suborbital launch system that would send passengers and payloads on short blasts into space as well as an orbital system that could deliver astronauts to the International Space Station or other destinations.
With financial backing from NASA, Blue Origin has developed an innovative launch pad escape system as well as a rocket that has gone as high as 45,000 feet (13.7 kilometers). But it hasn't yet put anything in outer space, and the crash of its prototype suborbital spacecraft in 2011 was a significant setback.
"We're a company that doesn't take the easy path," Blue Origin's president, Rob Meyerson, told NBC News during an interview at the company's headquarters in Kent. "These vehicles are challenging."