World’s richest man Jeff Bezos to blast off into space.
Jeff Bezos has become the second billionaire this month to reach the edge of space, and he did so aboard a rocket built by a company he launched.
The founder of Amazon, who stepped down as CEO this month, lifted off early Tuesday with three crewmates on the maiden flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle.
Bezos founded Blue Origin back in 2000, with the goal of one day building floating space colonies with artificial gravity where millions of people will work and live.
World’s richest man is back from space.
Jeff Bezos, the richest man globally, is set to join the astronaut club Tuesday on the first crewed launch by Blue Origin, another key moment in a big month for the fledgling space tourism industry.
The mission comes days after Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson crossed the final frontier, narrowly besting the Amazon magnate in their battle of the billionaires.
However, Blue Origin’s sights are set higher: both literally in terms of the altitude to which its reusable New Shepard craft will ascend compared to Virgin’s spaceplane, but also in its future ambitions.
Riding with Bezos on the planned 11-minute flight were brother Mark Bezos and the oldest and youngest people ever to fly into space – 82-year-old pioneering female aviator Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, 18, a physics student. Daemen, whose seat was paid for by his father, Joes Daemen, CEO of Somerset Capital Partners, was put on the crew after winning an anonymous $28 million auction for the flight that had to postpone due to scheduling conflict.
New Shepard lifted off from the company’s facilities in Van Horn, Texas, shortly after 9 a.m. ET.
The date of July 20 for the inaugural flight is significant – it’s the same day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard Apollo 11’s Eagle became the first humans to land on the moon.
Where is Elon Musk, the mastermind of all games?
With Bezos’ flight complete, Elon Musk, the head of SpaceX, is left as the odd man out in the billionaire space race. Even so, Musk’s SpaceX, which has flown astronauts to the International Space Station, is a heavyweight in the commercial space business compared with either Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin.
Branson and Bezos are hoping to tap into the potentially lucrative market for space tourism. At the same time, Musk is more focused on working with NASA, gaining market share in the satellite launch industry, and on his dream to send humans to Mars.
Even so, Musk turned up to watch Branson’s flight and has reportedly put down a $10,000 deposit to reserve a seat to fly on a future Virgin Galactic flight, where tickets are thought to go for $250,000 a pop, but it’s unknown if or when he will buckle in and blast off.
The Bottom Line
Today, the company is developing a heavy-lift orbital rocket called New Glenn and also a Moon lander it is hoping to contract to NASA under the Artemis program.
“They’ve had 15 successful New Shepard uncrewed flights, and we’ve been waiting years to see when they’re going to start flying people,” Laura Forczyk, founder of space consulting firm Astralytical, told AFP, calling it an “exciting time” for enthusiasts.
New Shepard will blast off at 8:00 am Central Time (1300 GMT) on July 20 from a remote facility in the west Texas desert called Launch Site One, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of the nearest town, Van Horn.
Besides the altitude, the New Shepard launch had some other key differences with Branson’s July 11 flight: Instead of lifting off from a pad, the Virgin Galactic vehicle was dropped from under a specially designed aircraft at about 50,000 feet before firing its ascent engines. The Virgin Galactic spacecraft also glided back to Earth for space shuttle-like runway landing.