Since he left his full-time role at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) five years ago, Bill Gates has kept himself busy with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but for anyone hoping for some more specifics of what he’s working on and what he thinks is important, Bill Gates sat down with Brad Stone over at BusinessWeek to talk about what he’s been up to and why he’s not that interested in going to space.

Bill gates and warren buffett

As a non-executive chairman, it’s easy to imagine that Gates only shows up for critical strategy sessions, but he says that he is still working to help Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) succeed. “I’m engaged a bit there part-time. I’m on the board. It is a trade-off. I’ve chosen to focus more time on the foundation, so I don’t get to do quite as many magic whiteboard meetings.”

Bill Gates working on initiatives that benefit Earth

“I was very fulfilled in my 20s and 30s being a fanatic about the magic of software,” says Gates, but these days he spends most of his time trying to put the right people in place to combat malaria, which is as much about working out complicated logistics as it is innovative medicine. He says that his goal is to help death rates in the developing world drop to the incredibly low rates you see among wealthier nations, and that achieving that would be “a signature accomplishment.” Back at home, he is also working on a number of initiatives that are meant to give poor children access to the same educational opportunities as children of white collar families.

“In the U.S., if we have an education system where the inner-city kid and the suburban kid have equal opportunity that would be a huge contribution,” he says.

Bill Gates on global warming vs. space travel

His foundation also works on initiatives meant to combat global warming, though he warns that Silicon Valley, which is used to people clamoring for the latest new toy, hasn’t been realistic about the regulatory and practical challenges of getting people to adopt new forms of energy generation.  One thing that he’s not interested is the space travel being funded by some other people with comparable levels of wealth.

“I guess it’s fun because you shoot rockets up in the air. But it’s not an area that I’ll be putting money into.”