Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced earlier this week that he would be traveling to space next month on Blue Origin’s first manned spaceflight. Bezos, who also founded Blue Origin in 2000, will be making the trip with his brother Mark. Blue Origin is one of several aerospace companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, that are offering private spaceflights to regular people. Bezos will nevertheless be the most high-profile individual to venture into space. In talking about the trip with his followers on Instagram, the 57-year-old billionaire said that he has dreamed of traveling to space since he was a young child. Bezos further added that he and his brother look to the trip as the adventure of a lifetime.
Bezos’ trip will take place on July 20, a few days after he officially steps down from his position as CEO of Amazon. The date is also auspicious as it marks the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 11, the first manned spaceflight to the Moon. Looking ahead at the experience, Bezos predicts that it will change the way he looks at the Earth. In a candid interview, Bezos says that spaceflight shows people that we are all one world. Mark Bezos adds that he was surprised when his older brother asked him to come with him on the trip and readily accepted the invitation. Like his brother, Mark sees traveling to space as a big adventure and is more than happy to embark on the mission with Jeff, who he says is also his best friend.
Analysts say that Bezos’ trip will surely bring new attention to Blue Origin, which has thus far lagged behind SpaceX and Virgin Galactic in the field of space exploration. The company lost a major NASA contract to SpaceX last April. The contract was for construction of a lander that will bring astronauts to the Moon in the Artemis Project. SpaceX also regularly tests its Falcon 9 rocket while Blue Origin’s space vehicle, the New Shepard, has only underdone 15 unmanned flights.
Despite falling behind its chief competitor, Bezos and the rest of the tourists aboard the New Shepard are excited to enter space. The craft will reach an altitude of about 250,000 feet and then hover in the suborbital atmosphere for several minutes before returning to the Earth. During this time, Bezos and his companions will experience weightlessness. Bidding for a seat on the July 20th flight is currently surpassing $2.8 million.