Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is making his first venture to space. Bezos announced his decision to embark on a space trip with his brother Mark Bezos on his Instagram page. The flight is scheduled for July 15.
“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.”
Tesla’s boss, Elon Musk is ahead of Bezos in the space business, having conducted successful space trips with his company, SpaceX. But Bezos is the first among the billionaire-space enthusiasts to take on a space trip.
He is set to resign on July 5th as CEO of Amazon, creating more time for himself for the space adventure. Since 2000, the world richest man has pumped millions into Blue Origin, his space aeronautics company that has conducted more than a dozen test flights with no one on board at Blue Origin’s facilities in rural Texas.
Blue Origin capsule called New Shepard was secretly tested for six years. In May, the company announced that it was preparing to put the first passengers in the New Shepard capsule.
Since the past 10 years, the goal of developing commercial space aircrafts has gained momentum, with many billionaires putting in resources to make it happen. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic is also planning on conducting flights to suborbital space for ultra-wealthy thrill seekers, putting up competition with Blue Origin and SpaceX. Like Bezos, the British billionaire said he would be among the first to ride on Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered plane which is expected to fly later this year.
Blue Origin is a six-seater capsule and 59-foot rocket, it’s crew will tear the rocket toward the edge of space on a 11-minute flight that’ll reach more than 60 miles above Earth.
Both Musk and Bezos are yet to open the space travels to the general public, but the success of many-member-crew trips signals that commercial services will soon be open to everyone who can afford it. Blue Origin didn’t say how much the seats will cost, but said one seat will be given to the winner of a month-long auction that’s currently in progress. The bidding, which has drawn out more than 5,200 bidders from 136 countries, had reached $2.8 million as of Monday morning and will conclude with a live auction on June 12.
Bezos will remain with Amazon, a company he has grown from an online book store to an empire of goods and services, as the executive chairman. However, his position means he will dedicate more time for the Blue Origin projects, to foster his long nurtured passion for space.
“I’m interested in space because I’m passionate about it,” Bezos, who also made a cameo in 2016’s Star Trek: Beyond,” said during an interview with Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Axel Springer. “I’ve been studying it and thinking about it since I was a five year old boy — but that is not why I’m pursuing this work. I’m pursuing this work because I believe if we don’t, we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis, which I find very demoralizing.”
Blue Origin has been competing for NASA contracts with SpaceX. Currently, the government is working on a deal to create a contract for the company under the Endless Frontier Act. It is a sort of compensation for Blue Origin for being sidelined in NASA’s prestigious contract to put astronauts to the moon in 2024, which was awarded to SpaceX.
The success of Blue Origin’s New Shepard flight will mean increased opportunity for Bezos in the space business, especially when it comes to federal contracts.