Jeff Bezos, Amazon boss and the world’s richest person with a net worth of $186 billion, wants to make Earth residential and move all industrial activities into space.

Speaking at Amazon’s interplanetary conference re:MARS last month, Bezos said the journey to space was necessary to “save the Earth”.

“We need to move heavy industry off the Earth. It will be way better done in space anyway,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “And Earth will be rezoned residential and light industry.”

He’s not the first to propose the idea: back in 1997 it was estimated that an asteroid with a diameter of just 1.6km could contain more than US$20 trillion worth of metals, AU$48 trillion in today’s terms. Meanwhile, European scientists are hoping to be mining the moon by 2025.

Earlier this year a collection of engineers, scientists and industry specialists gathered at the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) forum to discuss the viability of mining on the moon.

Professor Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research at the University of New South Wales, said Australia had a “natural advantage” for off-Earth mining.

“While overseas teams have been looking at solving some of the problems behind space mining, our project wants to examine how we could actually get this done, firstly from a practical engineering point of view, but also closing a viable business case.”

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