Jeff Bezos, who will fly off to space nine days after Richard Branson was aboard his company Virgin Galactic's rocket plane, said "this isn't a competition." (Reuters Photo)
Jeff Bezos, who will fly off to space nine days after Richard Branson was aboard his company Virgin Galactic's rocket plane, said "this isn't a competition." (Reuters Photo)

'Excited, curious': Jeff Bezos ahead of space trip aboard New Shepard

Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos will be joined in the all-civilian crew by 82-year-old pioneering woman aviator Wally Funk and teenager Oliver Daemen, a recent high school graduate.
Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 20, 2021 05:43 AM IST

Jeff Bezos has said he is not very nervous as he is set to blast off to space on Tuesday, days after British billionaire businessman Richard Branson made a pioneering suborbital flight from New Mexico. Jeff Bezos will fly off with three others from a desert site in West Texas on an 11-minute trip to the edge of space aboard his company Blue Origin's New Shepard.

"People keep asking if I am nervous. I am not really nervous, I am excited. I am curious. I want to know what we are going to learn," Bezos, founder of Amazon.com Inc, told the "CBS This Morning" program on Monday.

"We have been training. This vehicle is ready. This crew is ready. This team is amazing. We just feel really good about it," he added.

New Shepard is a 60-foot-tall (18.3 meters) and fully autonomous reusable rocket-and-capsule combo named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space. The New Shepard launch is set for around 8am CDT (1300 GMT) from Blue Origin's Launch Site One facility some 32km outside Van Horn, a rural town in Texas.

'Sit back, relax'

Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos will be joined by 82-year-old pioneering woman aviator Wally Funk and teenager Oliver Daemen, a recent high school graduate. The 18-year-old Daemen is the company's first paying customer. His father heads investment management firm Somerset Capital Partners.

“Just sit back, relax, look out of the window, just absorb the view outside,” he said on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

Also read | Explained: How to become a space tourist and the cost

Jeff Bezos, who will fly off to space nine days after Richard Branson was aboard his company Virgin Galactic's rocket plane, said "this isn't a competition." He said there was one person who was the first in space. "His name was Yuri Gagarin. And that happened a long time ago," Bezos said on the NBC's program "Today," referring to the Soviet cosmonaut who reached space in 1961.

"I think I'm going to be number 570 or something. That's where we are going to be on this list. So this isn't a competition. This is about building a road to space so that future generations can do incredible things in space," Bezos said.

All-civilian crew

The mission represents the world's first unpiloted flight to space with an all-civilian crew as Blue Origin will have none of its staff astronauts or trained personnel onboard.

Bezos and his crewmates started a 14-hour program on Sunday. According to Blue Origin, its training program includes safety briefings, a simulation of the spaceflight, a review of the rocket and its operations and instruction on how to float around the craft's cabin after the capsule sheds Earth's gravity.

Also read | Maharashtra-born Sanjal Gavande behind Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space rocket

Like Virgin Galactic's flight, New Shepard will not enter into orbit around Earth but will take the crew some 62 miles up (100km) before the capsule returns by parachute. Virgin Galactic's flight reached 53 miles (86km) above Earth.

Nasa and the US Air Force define an astronaut as anyone who has flown higher than 50 miles (80km), as Branson achieved with his flight.

Blue Origin's Chief Executive Officer Bob Smith said that the company's next flight would likely be at the end of September or early October. Smith said the "willingness to pay continues to be quite high" for people interested in future flights.

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