Jeff Bezos plans to become one of the first civilians in space next month, taking Blue Origin’s first human flight just two weeks after stepping down as Amazon’s chief executive.
The Amazon founder announced on Monday that he would be riding to the edge of space on the New Shepard spacecraft scheduled for launch by Blue Origin on July 20, alongside his brother and the winner of a multimillion-dollar auction for the final seat.
If the launch goes ahead as planned, Bezos will beat billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson, who have their own rocket ventures, into space.
This month’s launch has given Blue Origin, which has been funded with billions of dollars from the Amazon founder, some much-needed momentum in the billionaire space race, beating both Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Musk’s SpaceX in taking a civilian to space.
“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of travelling to space,” Bezos said in an Instagram post. “On July 20, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
New Shepard is on track to be the first commercial space flight to take a civilian beyond the Kármán line, the internationally recognised edge of space, more than 60 miles above earth.
The high-risk endeavour will come just two weeks after Bezos officially steps down as chief executive of Amazon.com, the $1.6tn ecommerce group he founded, on July 5.
Blue Origin has previously declined to discuss whether Bezos planned to join its first commercial flight himself.
Almost 6,000 people have bid the price of a seat on New Shepard up to $2.8m, Blue Origin said on Monday.
“To see the earth from space changes you — it changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one Earth,” Bezos said in Monday’s Instagram video, adding that it would be “meaningful” to take along his younger brother.
Mark Bezos said he was “awestruck” by the “unexpected” invitation, calling it a “remarkable opportunity”.
Mark Bezos is the founder of HighPost Capital, a New York-based private equity firm that is partially owned by the Bezos family. He also works with Robin Hood, a New York anti-poverty charity, and as a volunteer firefighter in Scarsdale, an affluent suburb in Westchester County.