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Ground control to Major Tom…oops sorry Jeff!

June 9, 2021 Headline News, Space Tourism No Comments
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While David Bowie’s “Ground Control to Major Tom” is locked in many of our memories, or at least us “oldies” as THE man in space, although sadly he did not make it back, a report by Jackie Wattles in CNN Business says that Amazon boss Jeff Bezos will be flying to space on the first crewed flight of the New Shepard, the rocket ship made by his space company, Blue Origin, with the flight scheduled for July 20th, just 15 days after he is set to resign as CEO of Amazon and Blue Origin said Bezos’ younger brother, Mark Bezos, will also join the flight.

The report says Bezos, [pictured] 57, said in a Monday morning Instagram post. “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” adding, “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother”, “The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

CNN says that if all goes according to plan, Bezos, the world’s richest person with a net worth of $187 billion, will be the first of the billionaire space tycoons to experience a ride aboard the rocket technology that he’s poured millions into developing, with not even Elon Musk, whose SpaceX builds rockets powerful enough to enter orbit around Earth, has announced plans to travel to space aboard one of his company’s human-worthy crew capsules.

British billionaire Richard Branson, whose own space company, Virgin Galactic, is planning on conducting flights to suborbital space for ultra-wealthy thrill seekers and competing directly with Blue Origin, with Branson having long said he would be among the first passengers aboard Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered plane, but that flight is expected to take place later in 2021.

Blue Origin’s crewed flight will see the company’s six-seater capsule and 59-foot rocket tear toward the edge of space on a 11-minute flight that’ll reach more than 60 miles above Earth, with after six years of extensive and often secretive testing of the rocket and capsule, called New Shepard, Blue Origin announced in May that it was preparing to put the first passengers in a New Shepard capsule.

Though the company has not announced how much it will sell regular tickets for, Blue Origin said one seat will be given to the winner of a month-long auction that’s currently in progress, with the bidding  at $2.8 million Monday morning but it hit $3.2 million after Blue Origin’s announcement.

Blue Origin was founded by Bezos in 2000, and the company conducted more than a dozen test flights with no one on board at Blue Origin’s facilities in rural Texas, about 70 miles from Marfa.

The report says that in addition to New Shepard, Blue Origin is also working to develop a towering rocket called New Glenn, which the company hopes will be used to send US government and commercial satellites to orbit, as well as potentially make trips to deep space and Blue Origin also hoped to be involved in NASA’s plan to return humans to the moon by 2024, though it was bested by SpaceX for a contract to build the lunar lander that would shuttle astronauts from the moon’s orbit down to the surface. Blue Origin is protesting that contract decision, though NASA has also said that Blue Origin is still eligible to bid to work on future lunar missions.

Bezos has called Blue Origin “the most important work I’m doing,” though he has not previously been open about whether he personally would like to travel to space, adding, “I’m interested in space because I’m passionate about it,” with Bezos, who also made a cameo in 2016’s Star Trek: Beyond,” saying during an interview with Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Axel Springer. “I’ve been studying it and thinking about it since I was a five year old boy — but that is not why I’m pursuing this work”, adding, “I’m pursuing this work because I believe if we don’t, we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis, which I find very demoralizing.”

An edited report from CNN Business by John Alwyn-Jones Special Correspondent Aviation, Travel and Tourism

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