(NewsNation Now) – Billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos and three teammates are scheduled to take off Tuesday morning from a desert site in West Texas for an 11-minute trip to the edge of space.
The richest man and his teammates in the world will travel aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard, a 60-foot-tall, fully self-contained rocket-capsule combo. The launch comes just over a week after billionaire Richard Branson traveled to the edge of space.
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Bezos, 57, who stepped down earlier this month as CEO of Amazon, announced in early June that he would be on the first passenger flight of his New Shepard rocket, choosing the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Bezos personally invited two of his fellow travelers – his brother Mark, 50, an investor and volunteer firefighter, and aviation pioneer Wally Funk. They will be joined by Oliver Daemen, a last-minute replacement for the winner of a $ 28 million charity auction that had a scheduling conflict.
A lover of space history, Bezos named his rocket New Shepard in honor of Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and his largest New Glenn rocket still in development after John Glenn, the first American in orbit.
Bezos was open about his childhood dreams of traveling to space and said via Instagram. “On July 20, I will be making this trip with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.
Blue Origin has performed 15 test flights in space since 2015, carrying experiments, children’s postcards and Mannequin Skywalker, the company’s alternate passenger. With the exception of the booster crash landing on the first trip, all demos were successful.
The capsule is fully automated, unlike Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane which required two pilots to take it to and from space a week ago.
Blue Origin is expected to open ticket sales shortly after Bezos’ flight and has already lined up some of the other bidders. The company did not disclose the cost of a ride.
While the little New Shepard is intended to launch people on brief flights to the edge of space, the mega New Glenn will be able to carry cargo and possibly crew into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Fla. -being from the end of next year. Blue Origin also has its eyes on the moon. Its proposed lunar lander, Blue Moon, lost to SpaceX’s spacecraft in NASA’s recent business competition to develop the technology to bring the next astronauts to the moon. Blue Origin is contesting the contract award, as is the other competitor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.