On Tuesday, Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest person in the world, will strap into a capsule built by his rocket company, Blue Origin, and blast off 62 miles above Texas.
The 57-year-old Amazon founder is set to launch his New Shepard rocket around 9 a.m. ET from West Texas on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
In addition to Bezos, other passengers include his 53-year-old younger brother, Mark Bezos, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate, Oliver Daemen, and an 82-year-old space pioneer, Wally Funk. Daemen and Funk will hopefully become the youngest and oldest people ever to enter space.
The mission, expected to last in total, around 10 minutes, will get underway at the company’s facilities in Van Horn, Texas. Following Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s flight on July 11, Bezos will be the second billionaire to enter the space race in his own rocket.
Last week, Branson took off in a plane from Virgin Galactic, a company he founded 14 years ago, to an altitude of more than 50 miles above New Mexico. As for Bezos’ team, on Monday night, his company said via Twitter that Mr. Bezos and his fellow passengers had completed their training exercises and were ready to head out and up.
Jeff Bezos Hopes To Become Second in the ‘Billionarie Space Race’
On Tuesday, Blue Origin released video footage showing the rocket being rolled out of its hangar and stood up at the launchpad. They also said the launch was set to go off as planned. While other space entrepreneurs have a type of rivalry with Bezos’ company, they wished him and Blue Origin good luck in their launch.
Early on Tuesday, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, tweeted “Best of luck” to Blue Origin. Virgin Galactic on Monday also bid Mr. Bezos and company “a successful and safe flight.” New Shepard, the name of the Blue Origin spacecraft, is named after Alan Shepard. Shepard was the first American in space.
Unlike Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft, New Shepard appears to be more of an additional rocket as it will take off vertically. When the booster has used up its fuel — liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen — the capsule leaves the booster.
In the past, Blue Origin has launched New Shepard 15 times — all without anyone onboard. While the capsule landed safely every time, on the first launch, the booster crashed. However, on the subsequent 14 launches, the booster landed safely.
Blue Origin is aiming for the rocket to take off at 9 a.m. ET on Tuesday. Blue Origin will begin coverage of the launch at 7:30 a.m. on its YouTube channel.
As for Jeff Bezos, this moment goes back to his childhood. Bezos, a child during the Apollo era, grew up bewildered by the mystery of outer space.
“Space is something that I have been in love with since I was five years old,” he said in 2014. “I watched Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon, and I guess it imprinted me.”