New York (CNN Business) – Jeff Bezos will fly into space on the first crewed flight of the New Shepard, the rocket manufactured by his space company, Blue Origin. The flight is scheduled for July 20, just 15 days after I step down as Amazon’s CEO.
Blue Origin said Bezos’ younger brother Mark Bezos will also join the flight.
“Since I was five years old, I have dreamed of traveling into space,” Bezos, 57, said in an Instagram post Monday morning. “On July 20 I will start that trip with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend ».
If all goes according to plan, Bezos, the world’s richest person with a net worth of $ 187 billion, will be the first of billionaire space moguls to experience a journey aboard rocket technology in which he has invested millions. to develop. Not even Elon Musk, whose SpaceX builds rockets powerful enough to go into orbit around Earth, has not announced plans to travel into space aboard one of his company’s human-worthy crew capsules. British billionaire Richard Branson, whose own space company, Virgin Galactic, plans to fly into suborbital space for the wealthiest thrill seekers and compete directly with Blue Origin. Branson has long said he would be among the first passengers aboard Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered plane, but that flight is expected to take place later in 2021.
The Blue Origin flight with Jeff Bezos
The Blue Origin manned flight – which Bezos will fly on – will see the company’s six-seater capsule and 18-meter rocket blast off to the edge of space in an 11-minute flight that will reach more than 95 kilometers above Earth.
After six years of extensive and often secret testing of the rocket and capsule, called the New Shepard, Blue Origin announced in May that it was preparing to put the first passengers in a New Shepard capsule.
Although the company has not announced how much it will sell regular tickets for, Blue Origin said the winner of a month-long auction currently underway will be given a seat. The tender had reached US $ 2.8 million as of Monday morning.
Blue Origin was founded by Bezos in 2000, and the company conducted more than a dozen test flights with no one aboard at the Blue Origin facility in rural Texas, about 70 miles from Marfa.
Bezos created Amazon in 1994, first as an online bookstore, with $ 250,000 from his parents. Over the next several years, it has grown to become one of the largest companies in the world, with businesses in everything from Amazon Web Services, a cloud computing services company that has entities such as Netflix and the CIA as clients; to own MGM, the studio that makes James Bond; to have a significant stake in Rivian, an electric car company.
He has his own home security company, Ring, and his own grocery chain, Whole Foods. And that’s not to mention its own airline, Prime Air, which has its own fleet of more than 70 Prime Air-branded planes, exclusively shipping Amazon packages around the world.
Amazon’s explosive popularity helped grow Bezos’s fortune to more than $ 1 billion in 1999, when he was named Person of the Year by Time magazine. He founded Blue Origin in 2000 and said at one point that he was selling more than $ 1 billion in Amazon stock each year to help fund the company’s rocket development.
Bezos will remain involved in Amazon, although he will rise to the position of senior executive.
Andy Jassy, director of Amazon Web Services, will replace him as CEO of Amazon.
Bezos’s brother, Mark, previously owned an advertising agency and is now senior vice president of Robin Hood, a New York City charity.
Other Blue Origin projects
In addition to New Shepard, Blue Origin is also working to develop a towering rocket called New Glenn, which the company hopes will be used to send commercial and US government satellites into orbit, as well as for deep space travel. . Blue Origin also hoped to be involved in NASA’s plan to return humans to the moon in 2024, although it was outbid by SpaceX for a contract to build the lunar lander that would transport astronauts from orbit to the moon. the surface. Blue Origin is protesting the contract decision, though NASA has also said Blue Origin is still eligible to apply to work on future lunar missions.
Bezos has called Blue Origin “the most important work I am doing,” although he has not previously been open about whether he personally would like to travel into space.
“I’m interested in space because I’m passionate about it,” said Bezos, who also made a cameo in Star Trek: Beyond in 2016, during an interview with Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer. I have been studying and thinking about it since I was five years old, but that is not why I dedicate myself to this work. I am pursuing this work because I believe that if we don’t, we will eventually end up with a stasis civilization, which I find very demoralizing. “
– With additional reporting from Rachel Crane.