The billionaire Jeff Bezos has announced that he will fly on the first passenger flight aboard a rocket New Shepard built by his own space company Blue Origin. In a video on Instagram, the Amazon CEO says he and his brother Mark as "his best friend" are launching into space on July 20.
"You see the Earth from space, it changes you. It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It's one Earth. I wanna go on this flight because it's the thing I wanted to do all my life. It's an adventure and a big deal to me," Bezos said in a video.
The company has set this date as a target for a first crewed flight in May.
"Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend," Bezos stated.
The booster of the New Shepard rocket is topped by a gumdrop-shaped Crew Capsule with space for six passengers inside. One seat on the flight will be claimed by the winning bidder in an ongoing online auction, which ends on June 12th. The current bid stands at $2,800,000. Tickets for Blue Origin's first crewed flight are planned to be sold for commercial flights up to 7 people.
Once the rocket blasts off from the Earth and reaches the Kármán line, which is 340,000 feet above sea level, the capsule will detach from the booster after letting passengers spend several minutes in zero gravity. The capsule will land separately in the West Texas desert with the parachutes.
A privately funded aerospace manufacturer was founded by Jeff Bezos in 2000. Blue Origin aims to make access to space cheaper and more reliable through reusable launch vehicles. Blue Origin is developing a variety of technologies, with a focus on rocket-powered vertical takeoff and vertical landing vehicles for access to suborbital and orbital space.
Elon Musk's SpaceX is also active in developing private commercial space travel. SpaceX has a competitive advantage over Blue Origin when it comes to helping NASA return to the Moon. A version of the SpaceX Starship recently won out over the Blue Origin Blue Moon and another ship by United Launch Alliance for the first lunar Human Landing System.