Jeff Bezos will be flying to space on the first crewed flight of the New Shepard, the rocket ship made by his space company, Blue Origin. The flight is scheduled for July 20th, just 15 days after he is set to resign as CEO of Amazon.
Blue Origin said Bezos’ younger brother, Mark Bezos, will also join the flight.
“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos, 57, said in a Monday morning Instagram post. “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
If all goes according to plan, Bezos — the world’s richest person with a net worth of $187 billion — will be the first of the billionaire space tycoons to experience a ride aboard the rocket technology that he’s poured millions into developing. Not even Elon Musk, whose SpaceX builds rockets powerful enough to enter orbit around Earth, has announced plans to travel to space aboard one of his companies human-worthy crew capsules.
British billionaire Richard Branson, whose own space company, Virgin Galactic, is planning on conducting flights to suborbital space for ultra-wealthy thrill seekers and competing directly with Blue Origin.
Branson has long said he would be among the first passengers aboard Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered plane, but that flight is expected to take place later in 2021.
Bezos’ flight will take just minutes from start to finish, with three minutes of weightlessness as the crewed capsule brushes over an altitude of 100km, known as the Kármán line, the formal beginning for space. The booster rocket will land autonomously seven minutes after liftoff, and the crew capsule will float to earth on parachutes three minutes after that, with a planned touchdown in the West Texas desert.
Blue Origin, the spaceflight company Bezos founded in 2000, began testing its New Shepard vehicle in 2015. The system is named after Alan Shepard, the second person, and first American, in space, and the flight is timed to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
With massive windows to give an unparalleled view of Earth and comfortable seating for up to six people, New Shepard is explicitly designed to serve the space tourism market, and after Bezos’s inaugural flight, seats on future trips will be made available to the general public for an undisclosed price.