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Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to perform his first private manned space flight
Jeff Bezos is about to take off on his space travel company’s first flight with people on board.
The founder of Blue Origin and Amazon will become the second billionaire to pilot his own rocket on Tuesday. He will take off from West Texas with his brother, an 18-year-old Dutchman, and an 82-year-old Texas aviation pioneer, the youngest and oldest to ever leave the planet.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket is set to take off with its eclectic group of passengers on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Bezos is aiming for an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers), more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) higher than Richard Branson’s on July 11.
The capsule is fully automated, so there is no need for trained personnel for the fast top-to-bottom flight, which should only take 10 minutes. Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane needs two pilots to operate.
Bezos’ dream trip follows 15 successful test flights into space by New Shepard rockets since 2015, all unoccupied. If successful, Blue Origin plans two more passenger flights by the end of the year.
The company has yet to open ticket sales to the public and is filling up upcoming flights with those who participated in last month’s $ 28 million charity auction for the fourth capsule seat. The mystery winner withdrew from Tuesday’s launch due to a scheduling conflict. This paved the way for Oliver Daemen, a Dutch student linked to the university whose father was among the unsuccessful bidders.
Also flying: Mark, Bezos’ younger brother, and Wally Funk, one of 13 female pilots who underwent the same tests in the early 1960s as NASA’s Mercury astronauts, but failed to qualify because they were women.