52 years of development: Amazon founder ready to take off into space | US news
Jeff Bezos says his dream of traveling into space was born when he saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon when he was five in 1969.
For exactly 52 years to the day, the Amazon founder and richest man in the world will take off with his own rocket to make this dream come true.
Mr. Bezos is accompanied by his brother Mark and the two people who are the youngest and oldest who travel into space.
You will also be the first people to take off aboard the New Shepard rocket, which was built by Mr. Bezos’ Blue Origin. There will be no crew on board as the launch is fully automated.
Mr. Bezos is from 82 year old Wally Funkwho trained at NASA in the 1960s but was denied a space flight because no women were selected for missions at the time.
Dutch student Oliver Daemen, 18, was announced as the fourth passenger last week after the anonymous bidder, who paid $ 28 million (£ 20.5 million) for a seat, pulled out due to a “planning conflict”.
The four will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before the capsule returns to the Texas desert about 11 minutes after takeoff.
Mr Bezos, of course, won’t be the first billionaire to make it into space after being beaten by rival Sir Richard Branson Virgin Galactic launched nine days ago.
But some, not least within Blue Origin, have questioned whether Sir Richard really made it into space. It reached 53 miles above the surface of the earth, beyond the NASA recognized threshold of space. But Mr. Bezos will cross the so-called Karman Line of 62 miles above the surface of the earth, the internationally recognized limit of outer space.
Both men have insisted that the race to prove that space tourism is viable is not a personal competition.
“There was a person who was the first person in space, his name was Yuri Gagarin and that happened a long time ago,” said Mr Bezos.
“This is not a competition, it is about building a road into space so that future generations can do incredible things in space.”
But he, Sir Richard and the billionaire’s space enthusiast Elon Musk have yet to show how the price of such flights will ever be within reach of those who have no money to burn.
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Blue Origin’s launch will take place in a remote stretch of desert that Mr Bezos bought for space travel. The nearby small town of Van Horn is suddenly at the center of the global space spotlight.
Mr Bezos has long talked about building colonies for trillions of people in space, or moving pollutants to other planets and making the earth habitable only.
His high school girlfriend once said that when he started Amazon it was all about funding his space adventures, which he jokingly refused to confirm or deny.
That moment – 52 years in development – is imminent.