In this file photo, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and crew capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado, US. (REUTERS)
In this file photo, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and crew capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado, US. (REUTERS)

Bezos going into space on July 20, beating ‘space barons’ Musk, Branson to it

Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin, which is based outside Seattle in Washington state, has been conducting flight tests of New Shepard, a reusable rocket and its safety systems since 2012.
By Yashwant Raj | Edited by Amit Chanda
UPDATED ON JUN 07, 2021 08:40 PM IST

The world’s wealthiest man, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, plans to also become the first billionaire to go into space. He will be aboard New Shepard, a reusable rocket of his space company Blue Origin, with his brother Mark Bezos and one more person, the winner of an auction for the third berth, when it lifts off on July 20, two weeks after Jeff is scheduled to step down as CEO of Amazon.

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of travelling to space,” Jeff said in a post on Instagram on Monday. “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend. #Gradatim Ferociter (a Latin phrase that is Blue Origin’s motto, and translates to ‘step by step, ferociously’).”

“I wasn’t even expecting him to say that he was going to be on the first flight,” said Mark, who is senior vice-president at Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting charity in New York City, in a video in the Instagram post. “What a remarkable opportunity, not only to have this adventure but to do it with my best friend.”

If nothing changes between now and July 20, Jeff Bezos will become the first billionaire to go into space, beating fellow “Space Barons” Elon Musk, whose SpaceX has been flying crewed missions to the International Space Station since 2020, and Richard Branson, who has announced plans several times before to go up in a Virgin Galactic rocket, but hasn’t yet.

Jeff’s space company Blue Origin, which is based outside Seattle in Washington state, has been conducting flight tests of the New Shepard and its safety systems since 2012, and the company said it had 15 successful consecutive missions, including three successful escape tests, demonstrating its crew escape system can activate safely in any phase of flight missions.

New Shepard, which is a reusable rocket system, is named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space.

The 59ft rocket, with a six-seater capsule, will take off on July 20, the anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The flight will last 11 minutes and will travel 60 miles above Earth to the edge of space, according to reports.

Along with Jeff’s brother will be the winner of an auction that is under way, with the highest bid standing at $2.8 million. The winner will be declared at a live auction on June 12; participants have until June 10 to communicate their bidding limits. Earnings from the auction will go to foundation step to up to promote education in STEM courses - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Jeff founded Blue Origin in 2000 to enable, the company said on its website, a “future where millions of people are living and working in space to benefit Earth. In order to preserve Earth, Blue Origin believes that humanity will need to expand, explore, find new energy and material resources, and move industries that stress Earth into space”.

Musk founded SpaceX two years later in 2002 and Branson followed up with Virgin Galactic in 2004.

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