Jeff Bezos said on Monday that he would be on board when his rocket company, Blue Origin, conducts its first human spaceflight next month. He said his brother Mark Bezos would join him on the flight.
Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Mr. Bezos in 2000, is also auctioning off a passenger seat on the New Shepard, a suborbital spacecraft that is set to take off on July 20. Bidding has reached almost $3 million with nearly 6,000 participants from 143 countries, the company said.
The flight is set to carry six passengers on a short trip to the edge of outer space on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Blue Origin’s tourist rocket is named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space, in 1961. It has undergone 15 test flights, none of which had passengers aboard.
“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Mr. Bezos said on Instagram, calling the trip “the greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
“To see the earth from space, it changes you,” Mr. Bezos, 57, said in the video announcement. “It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one earth. I want to go on this flight because it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”
The crew for the launch next month will arrive in West Texas four days before their flight for safety training. At about 47 miles, or 250,000 feet, the capsule carrying the passengers will separate from its booster. The astronauts will then get to unbuckle and experience weightlessness for nearly three minutes before the capsule returns to Earth. Because the capsule is fully pressurized, passengers will not be required to wear spacesuits or helmets.
Mr. Bezos, who also founded Amazon, said in February that he would step down as that company’s chief executive on July 5. Andy Jassy, the chief of Amazon’s cloud computing division, will become chief executive, while Mr. Bezos will become executive chairman. Mr. Bezos said he wanted to put more time and energy into his other passions, including Blue Origin.
Mr. Bezos has long voiced his goals and aspirations for human expansion around the solar system, imagining millions of people eventually living and working in space.
Blue Origin, which is known for building and selling rocket engines to another rocket company, recently lost a competition with SpaceX for a contract to build a moon lander for NASA’s astronauts. It later protested the award. Customers have also paid to fly science experiments for NASA and private scientists during test flights of the New Shepard spacecraft.
Blue Origin has been preparing for years for the start of its space tourism program, which will offer suborbital trips to what is considered the boundary of outer space, 62 miles above Earth.