Jeff Bezos said Monday that he would be on board when his rocket company Blue Origin makes its first manned spaceflight next month. He said his brother Mark Bezos would accompany him on the flight.
Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Mr Bezos in 2000, is also auctioning a passenger seat on the New Shepard, a suborbital spacecraft slated to launch on July 20 in 143 countries, the company said.
The flight is scheduled to take six passengers on a short journey to the edge of space on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Blue Origin’s tourist rocket is named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space in 1961. She has completed 15 test flights, none of which had passengers on board.
“I’ve dreamed of going into space since I was five,” said Mr Bezos on Instagram, calling the trip “the greatest adventure with my best friend”.
“Seeing the earth from space changes you,” said Mr Bezos, 57, in the video announcement. “It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It is an earth. I want to do this flight because that’s what I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me. “
The crew for next month’s launch will arrive in West Texas four days before their flight for safety training. At about 47 miles, or 250,000 feet, the capsule that carries passengers separates from their booster. The astronauts can then unbuckle their seatbelts and experience weightlessness for almost three minutes before the capsule returns to Earth. Since the capsule is fully pressurized, passengers do not have to wear spacesuits or helmets.
Mr Bezos, who also founded Amazon, said in February that he would step down as that company’s CEO on July 5. Andy Jassy, head of Amazon’s cloud computing division, will become chief executive, while Mr. Bezos will become executive chairman. Mr Bezos said he wanted to put more time and energy into his other passions, including Blue Origin.
Mr. Bezos has long voiced his goals and aspirations for human expansion around the solar system, envisioning that millions of people will eventually live and work in space.
Blue Origin, known for building and selling rocket engines to another rocket company, recently lost a competition with SpaceX for a contract to build a lunar lander for NASA astronauts. It later protested the award. Customers have also paid to fly science experiments for NASA and private scientists during the test flights of the New Shepard spacecraft.
Blue Origin has been preparing for the launch of its space tourism program for years, which will offer suborbital travel to the edge of space 100 kilometers above the earth.