Jeff Bezos may have been beaten to space by rival Richard Branson, but the billionaire American businessman is poised to make history next week aboard what would be the world’s first unpiloted suborbital flight with an all-civilian crew.
Bezos, the former CEO of Amazon.com Inc, is due to be part of a four-person crew for a planned 11-minute ride to the edge of space on Tuesday (July 20) inside his company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, another milestone in the nascent and potentially lucrative space tourism sector.
He is set to be joined by his brother and private equity executive Mark Bezos, trailblazing octogenarian woman aviator Wally Funk and an as-yet-unidentified person who paid $28 million for a spot aboard the spacecraft, scheduled to launch from a West Texas site.
New Shepard is a 60-foot-tall (18.3-meters-tall) and fully autonomous rocket-and-capsule combo that cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft. The crew is set to include only civilians and none of Blue Origin’s employees or staff astronauts, three people familiar with the company’s plans told Reuters.
Blue Origin’s astronauts include NASA space shuttle veteran Nicholas Patrick.
“To see the Earth from space, it changes you, it changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity,” Bezos said in a video last month discussing the flight.