Jeff Bezos is heading to space shortly after he steps down as CEO of Amazon, he announced Monday.
Next month, Bezos, 57, will join the first crewed flight of the New Shepard, the rocket ship made by his space company Blue Origin, which he founded in 2000. The flight will take off on July 20, the anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing and just 15 days after Bezos resigns as CEO of the mammoth e-commerce company he founded.
“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos said in an Instagram post on Monday. “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
Bezos is going on the space flight with his younger brother, Mark Bezos.
“If you see the earth from space, it changes you. It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one earth,” Bezos said in a video accompanying the post. “I wanted to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”
Bezos tagged Blue Origin’s motto, “Gradatim Ferociter,” on the end of his post, translated from Latin by the company as “step by step ferociously.”
The 59-foot rocket has a capsule that seats six with no pilots. The suborbital spacecraft will fly about 11 minutes and ascend more than 60 miles above the earth.
Although Bezos, whose net worth stands at $187 billion, is resigning as Amazon’s CEO, the world’s richest person plans to continue to be involved in the company as executive chairman.
Blue Origin is currently allowing people to bid on a seat to join the Bezos brothers on the rocket’s inaugural crewed flight. Bidding had reached $2.8 million as of Monday, with nearly 6,000 participants from 143 countries, according to the company.
The winning bid will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose mission is “to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space,” the company said.
Bezos is not the only billionaire to invest in space exploration in recent years.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has built the Crew Dragon seven-seat capsule that now transports human crews to the International Space Station and back. Musk’s company launched astronauts into space for the first time on the Crew Dragon in May 2020, but Musk himself has yet to join the crew on one of its flights.
In April, NASA chose SpaceX over Blue Origin for a $2.9 billion contract to build the space vehicle that will land the next astronauts on the moon. Blue Origin is protesting that decision, saying NASA made mistakes in its evaluation of the two proposals.
“It’s really atypical for NASA to make these kinds of errors,” Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, told The New York Times. “They’re generally quite good at acquisition, especially its flagship missions like returning America to the surface of the moon. We felt that these errors needed to be addressed and remedied.”
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