Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will fly to space on the first crewed flight launched by his space company Blue Origin.
The world’s richest man made the announcement in an Instagram post and said his volunteer firefighter brother Mark Bezos will be joining him.
The trip is scheduled to take place on 20 July this year. The reusable New Shepard rocket will pass a 100km altitude, the official beginning of space. The Bezos brothers will experience weightlessness for three minutes before returning to Earth in the West Texas desert.
Bidding for the third seat on the first crewed flight has reached $2.8m. The charity auction closes in five days.
“You see the Earth from space, it changes you,” Jeff Bezos said in a video announcing his plan. “It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one Earth. I want to go on this flight because it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”
He will step down as CEO of ecommerce giant Amazon two weeks before the space trip. He will instead serve as executive chairman, with the CEO of Amazon Web Services Andy Jassy taking over as Amazon’s top dog.
Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with the goal of launching space tourism. Like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Blue Origin has focused its efforts on reducing the cost of space travel, largely by making booster rockets reusable instead of jettisoning them into the atmosphere after each trip.
But while SpaceX is offering cargo services to NASA and launching communications satellites, Blue Origin is instead serving the space tourism market.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is also competing to provide space tourism, but its vehicle is yet to reach the internationally defined standards of space.
If the trip goes ahead, Bezos will be the first of the billionaire rocket company owners to take a trip to space.