Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced plans on Monday to fly into space next month on a rocket built by his company Blue Origin, fulfilling what he said was a lifelong dream.
The 57-year-old billionaire said he and his brother Mark will blast off from Earth on July 20 on the first crewed flight of the company’s New Shepard launch vehicle.
Blue Origin is auctioning off the third seat in the spacecraft and bidding is already at $3.2 million with thousands of participants from around the world.
“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Bezos said in a video statement. “It’s an adventure.”
He said he had invited his brother to join him “because we’re closest friends.”
“To see the Earth from space, it changes you,” Bezos said. “It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one Earth.”
The trip will last a total of 10 minutes, four of which passengers will spend above the Karman line that marks the recognised boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
After lift-off, the capsule separates from its booster, then spends four minutes at an altitude exceeding 60 miles (100 kilometres), during which time those on board experience weightlessness and can observe the curvature of Earth from space.
The booster lands autonomously on a pad two miles from the launch site, and the capsule floats back to the surface with three large parachutes that slow it down to about a mile per hour when it lands.
New Shepard has successfully carried out more than a dozen uncrewed test runs from its facility in the Guadalupe Mountains of west Texas.
The reusable suborbital rocket system was named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space 60 years ago.
The proceeds from the auction will go to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, which aims to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
After the auction for the first flight, Blue Origin will offer places for sale for future trips.
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