Jeff Bezos will be the first passenger to board his rocket company Blue Origin’s inaugural manned space launch next month, he revealed today.
The Amazon billionaire, 57, announced the news on Instagram this morning, telling his millions of followers that his younger brother Mark will also join the trip, which blasts off from Texas on July 20 - the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
They will be accompanied by the final winner of a month-long online auction for a third seat on New Shepard spaceship. The top bid currently stands at $2.8million (£2million).
The widely-anticipated launch follows six years of secretive trials and is being seen as a landmark in the drive to usher in a new era of private commercial space travel.
“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I wanted to do all my life.” Bezos says in the video.
He wrote: “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. The greatest adventure, with my best friend. #GradatimFerociter“
The Latin phrase is Blue Origin’s motto, and means “Step by Step, Ferociously.”
The New Shepard craft has flown more than a dozen successful test flights over the past six years without passengers on board, including one in April at the company’s facility in the Texas desert.
It can carry as many as six people at a time on a ride beyond the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. Capsules on previous test flights reached an altitude of more than 340,000 feet (or more than 60 miles).
The craft features a giant window giving passengers a view of the Earth below: passengers spend a few minutes in zero gravity before returning to Earth.
Bezos, who is the world’s richest man with a net worth of $187 billion, will become the first of the billionaire space tycoons to experience a ride aboard the rocket technology that he’s poured millions into developing.
Elon Musk, whose SpaceX builds rockets powerful enough to enter orbit around Earth, has yet to announce any intention to travel to space aboard one of his company’s capsules.
Richard Branson’s space company Virgin Galactic is also planning to conduct flights to space for wealthy tourists: Branson, 70, has long said he would be among the first passengers when its rocket-powered plane finally takes flight.
The cachet of claiming victory in the new private space race will not be lost on Bezos, who will formally step down as Amazon’s CEO two week’s earlier.
“To see the Earth from space, it changes you.. it changes your relationship with this planet, this humanity...” Bezos added. “It’s an adventure... it’s a big deal for me.