Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says he and his brother Mark will fly to space next month on the first crewed flight of his space venture’s suborbital spaceship.
“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos wrote today in an Instagram post. “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
The surprise announcement comes even as Blue Origin, the space company Bezos founded 21 years ago, is auctioning off one of the six seats on next month’s flight to the public. The high bid currently stands at $2.8 million, and the final price is due to be set at a live online budding round on Saturday.
Blue Origin says it’s received bids from nearly 6,000 participants from 143 countries. The proceeds from the winning bid will be donated to Blue Origin’s educational foundation, the Club for the Future.
Blue Origin has conducted 15 uncrewed tests of its reusable New Shepard spaceship over the course of the past six years, but next month’s up-and-down flight at the company’s spaceport in West Texas would mark the first time the craft has carried people.
If all goes according to plan, Bezos would become the first spaceship owner to fly to space, whether we’re talking 50 miles or 100 kilometers (62 miles) in altitude, on their own vehicle. Two other billionaires — Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and SpaceX’s Elon Musk — have talked about doing likewise. But this appears to be one space race Bezos has a chance of winning.