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Amazon founder will make voyage to space

By BELINDA ROBINSON IN NEW YORK | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-08 10:55
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Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is heading to space next month as one of the first passengers on his newest venture, Blue Origin, a space travel company.

Bezos, 57, will travel with his brother, Mark, 53, on the first flight of his suborbital rocket that was developed by his space firm. Mark Bezos is a co-founder of HighPost Capital LLC and is on the leadership council for Robin Hood, a New York City-based nonprofit organization that invests in antipoverty programs.

"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," Jeff Bezos said in a video posted to Instagram. "I want to go on this flight because it's a thing I've wanted to do all my life. It's an adventure. It's a big deal for me.

"To see the Earth from space, it changes you, it changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity," Bezos said in the video announcing his trip.

The 11-minute flight on the "New Shepard" — named after astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space — will take off on a historic day for US space travel. It will mark the 52nd anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

Commercial space travel is still in its infancy, but Blue Origin said that it has taken safety extremely seriously. It has been testing the rocket's safety systems since 2012 and has launched Blue Shepard more than 15 times from its site in West Texas.

Blue Origin's six-seat capsule will go more than 60 miles above Earth. The capsule flies vertically with a booster that separates as soon as it reaches the right altitude. It then releases a parachute and fires rockets to slow it down before it descends to its launch pad. The booster, meanwhile, returns to the launch site.

Founded in 2000, the company aims to offer space tourism to adventurous customers who want to go out of this world. It is also working to create rockets for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

A ticket for a flight on New Shepard could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Yahoo.

Bezos will fly alongside the eventual winner of a charity auction that attracted nearly 6,000 participants. The highest bid on Monday climbed $400,000 to $3.2 million, Blue Origin said, with the winner decided in a live auction slated for June 12.

The flight will mark a new chapter for Bezos, who will step down from his role as Amazon's CEO on July 5.

He told Amazon's annual shareholder meeting last month that he chose the date "because it's sentimental for me, the day Amazon was incorporated in 1994, exactly 27 years ago".

He founded the widely successful online retail hub in 1994 in his garage with a loan from his parents of $250,000 and ran it for two decades.

Amazon was first an online bookseller but is now one of the largest companies in the world.

Its businesses include Amazon Web Services, cloud computing services, MGM Studios and a stake in Rivian, an electric-car company.

Amazon also owns Ring, a home-security doorbell company, Whole Foods and Prime Air, an airline with 70 aircraft that ships Amazon packages worldwide.

Bezos will hold the title of executive chairman after he is replaced as CEO by Andy Jassy, currently head of Amazon Web Services.

The world's second-richest man with a net worth of $186.2 billion has reportedly put more than $1 billion into his aerospace venture.

The race to create space tourism among a few of the world's most well-known billionaires is accelerating. Blue Origin aims to rival SpaceX, a venture run by Tesla's billionaire CEO Elon Musk.

Blue Origin and SpaceX competed to create capsules capable of traveling to space, but SpaceX was awarded the contract by NASA.

SpaceX was the first private company to launch humans from the US into space in May 2020.

British Billionaire Richard Branson is also in the race to create commercial space flights. His Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc aims to take wealthy thrill-seeking passengers into space. Branson has long expressed a deep desire to travel to space.

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