Jeff Bezos is about to fly on the first flight of his space travel company with people on board
VAN HORN, Texas – Jeff Bezos is about to fly his space travel company’s first flight with people on board.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket is ready to blast off with its eclectic group of passengers on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Bezos aims at an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers), more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) higher than Richard Branson’s trip on July 11.
The capsule is fully automated, so there is no need for trained personnel on the fast round-trip flight, which is expected to take just 10 minutes. Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane needs two pilots to operate.
Bezos’ dream come true trip follows 15 successful test flights into space with New Shepard rockets since 2015, all of them unoccupied. If successful, Blue Origin plans two more passenger flights by the end of the year.
The company has yet to open ticketing to the public and is filling upcoming flights with those who participated in last month’s $ 28 million charity auction for the fourth capsule seat. The mystery winner pulled out of Tuesday’s release due to a scheduling conflict. That opened the way for Oliver Daemen, a Dutch college-bound student whose father was one of the unsuccessful bidders.
They also flew: Bezos’ younger brother Mark and Wally Funk, one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests in the early 1960s as NASA’s Mercury astronauts, but failed to make the cut because they were women.
Not everyone in the remote, desert town of Van Horn was excited about the drama unfolding 25 miles to the north.
“It is a luxury that will be reserved for the rich,” said the owner of the pizzeria Jesús Ramírez. He planned to watch the morning launch from his restaurant patio with a cup of coffee.
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