Even after he’s become the richest man in the world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is still leading from the front.
Jeff Bezos has announced he will be on the first space flight of his rocket company Blue Origin. Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket-and-capsule combo is designed to autonomously fly six passengers more than 100 km above Earth into suborbital space, which will enable them to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet, before the pressurized capsule returns to earth under parachutes. Jeff Bezos will be on the inaugural flight with his brother.
“Ever since I was five years old, I`ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother,” Bezos said in an Instagram post.
Blue Origin had invited auctions to be on the flight, and said it had received more than 5,200 bidders from 136 countries. Someone had also bid $2.8 million (Rs. 20 crore) to be on the ship. The excitement is for good reason — the flight promises an enthralling experience for space tourists, with six observation windows and are nearly three times as tall as those on a Boeing 747 jetliner and the largest ever used in space.
And while Bezos is leading from the front while taking tourists to space, it’s not as though the capsule is untested — it has undergone 15 test flights without incident. None of the tests, though, had any passengers onboard.
But as he steps down as Amazon Chief — the launch is exactly 15 days after his last day as Amazon CEO — Bezos seems to be signaling that he’ll be spending more time on his space company. Among the galaxy of successes Bezos has spawned, including Amazon, Alexa, the Whole Foods acquisition, and AWS, Blue Origin’s story has been relatively modest. The company was founded two years before SpaceX, but had a different approach to taking humans to space. While Blue Origin initially focused on suborbital flights, SpaceX spent its energies on building reusable rockets to help bring down costs of space travel. SpaceX grew much faster than Blue Origin, sending private satellites to space and winning coveted NASA contracts, while Blue Origin struggled with its own rockets. Bezos, though, is bringing focus back to the company by starting Blue Origin’s spaceflights for tourists. And with designating himself as customer number 1, Bezos is putting his skin in the space game like few space entrepreneurs before him.