(NewsNation Now) — Billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos and three crewmates are due to fly from a desert site in West Texas Tuesday morning on an 11-minute trip to the edge of space.
The world’s richest man and crewmates will travel aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard, a 60-foot-tall and fully autonomous rocket-and-capsule combo. The launch comes a little over a week after fellow billionaire Richard Branson went to the edge of space.
NewsNation will live stream the Blue Origin launch in the player above. Video courtesy Blue Origin.
Bezos, 57, who stepped down earlier this month as Amazon’s CEO, announced in early June that he’d be on his New Shepard rocket’s first passenger flight, choosing the 52nd anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing.
Bezos personally invited two of his fellow passengers — his 50-year-old brother Mark, an investor and volunteer firefighter, and female aviation pioneer Wally Funk. Joining them will be Oliver Daemen, a last-minute fill-in for the winner of a $28 million charity auction who had a scheduling conflict.
Enamored by space history, Bezos named his New Shepard rocket after Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and his bigger, still-in-development New Glenn rocket after John Glenn, the first American in orbit.
Bezos has been open about his childhood dreams of traveling to space and said via Instagram. “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
Blue Origin has completed 15 test flights to space since 2015, carrying up experiments, children’s postcards and Mannequin Skywalker, the company’s passenger stand-in. Except for the booster crash-landing on the first trip, all the demos were successful.
The capsule is entirely automated, unlike Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane that required two pilots to get him to space and back a week ago.
Blue Origin is expected to open ticket sales soon after Bezos flies and has already lined up some of the other auction bidders. The company hasn’t disclosed the cost of a ride.
While the diminutive New Shepard is meant to launch people on brief flights to the edge of space, the mega New Glenn will be capable of hauling cargo and eventually crew into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida, possibly beginning late next year. Blue Origin also has its eyes on the moon. Its proposed lunar lander, Blue Moon, lost to SpaceX’s Starship in NASA’s recent commercial competition to develop the technology for getting the next astronauts onto the moon. Blue Origin is challenging the contract award, as is , the other competitor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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