Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has revealed on Instagram that he plans to fly on Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight next month.
“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Bezos, the richest person in the world, said in a post published Monday morning. “It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”
Bezos said he invited his younger brother, Mark, whom he described as his best friend, to go along. The two brothers will join the winner of an auction for a third seat on the flight, which is set to take place on July 20 of this year. Bidding for this seat is already at $2.8 million but is likely to go higher during a live auction on July 12. Proceeds from this auction will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future.
This means that Bezos will beat his competitor in the suborbital space race, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, into space. Branson is hoping to fly on his VSS Unity vehicle later in 2021.
That Bezos is going to space is not a surprise. He has long been enamored of spaceflight and back in 2016 spoke longingly about the New Shepard experience, saying he wanted to go to space as soon as possible. At the time he had hoped to do so as early as 2017.
“Yes, I do want to go to space, but I want to do it on Blue Origin vehicles,” he said in 2016. “You can buy Soyuz seats; it’s not what drives me. I want to change the whole cost structure of accessing space. But yes, I do want to go, and I will go.”
Now, more than five years later, he is about to get that chance. So why did it take so long?
Blue Origin has proceeded cautiously with development and testing of the New Shepard rocket and capsule, despite completing more than a dozen fully successful flights in succession. The company has been able to do this because both the rocket and spacecraft are fully reusable.
“One of the great things about the architecture is that we can fly it until we have so much confidence,” he explained in 2016. “We’ll test the ever-living daylights out of the vehicle before ever putting a human on it. By the time anyone gets on, I think you should be willing to bring your mom and your kids.”
Now, Bezos may not be bringing his mom on the first human flight of the vehicle—but he will be bringing a family member. This speaks to the company’s, and his, confidence in the safety of New Shepard. After this mission, Blue Origin is expected to begin flying other passengers on future flights later this year. The company has not yet set a public price for tickets inside the capsule, which can carry as many as six people.