Bezos’ rocket company will send tourists to space this weekend for first time since 2022

World News

Blue Origin, the aerospace company owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, will resume its space tourism program on May 19, sending a crew of six people into space in a first for the company in nearly two years.
VAN HORN, TEXAS – JULY 20: Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew (L-R) Oliver Daemen, Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk, and Mark Bezos pose for a picture near the booster after flying into space in the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas. Mr. Bezos and the crew were the first human spaceflight for the company. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Key Takeaways
  • Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket will launch out of Texas on Sunday, with a launch window opening at 8:30 a.m. CDT, the company announced Tuesday.
  • It will carry a crew of six civilians, including 90-year-old sculptor Ed Dwight, who made history in 1961 when he was the first-ever Black astronaut candidate in the U.S.—but was never selected to join a space mission.
  • Sunday’s launch will represent a reboot of Blue Origin’s space tourism program, which has been sidelined since August of 2022 after one of the company’s unmanned New Shepard rockets suffered a malfunction mid-flight, prompting a mishap investigation with Federal Aviation Administration oversight.
  • The launch would mark Blue Origin’s seventh crewed space flight, and would bring the total number of people that Blue Origin has successfully flown into space to 37.
  • Blue Origin offers a trip past the internationally recognized boundary of space at 62 miles above Earth at more than three times the speed of sound, allowing the crew to float weightless before returning to Earth.
How Can You Watch The Blue Origin Rocket Launch?

The launch will be livestreamed from the Blue Origin website beginning at 40 minutes prior to launch.

Key Background

Prior to the 2022 malfunction, the New Shepard rocket had taken six successful missions carrying more than two dozen passengers, including Bezos, “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and former NFL star and Good Morning America host Michael Strahan.

After the malfunction, Blue Origin conducted an investigation with FAA oversight, which the FAA closed last September. The FAA found the cause of the mishap was likely the “structural failure of an engine nozzle caused by higher than expected engine operating temperatures.”

The company was ordered to take 21 corrective actions. In December, it launched an unmanned rocket, taking a significant step toward resuming its space tourism activities. But the hiatus didn’t help Blue Origin’s efforts to keep up in the space race—in the two years it’s been grounded, competitor Virgin Galactic, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, has carried on uninterrupted with multiple successful commercial space flights.

Big Number

$28 million. That’s how much the first-ever New Shepard ticket sold for at auction—though it’s not entirely clear how much a typical ticket actually costs, with some reports previously suggesting Bezos had been planning to charge upward of $200,000.

Surprising Fact

At 90 years old, Dwight is set to be the oldest man in space, beating out the former record-holder, Shatner, by a few months, according to NPR. His crewmates include venture capitalist Mason Angel, founder of French Brewery Brasserie Mont Blanc Sylvain Chiron, entrepreneur Kenneth Hess, retired CPA Carol Schaller and pilot Gopi Thotakura.

Forbes Valuation

We estimate Bezos’ net worth at $204.2 billion, largely through his stake in Amazon, which he founded in 1994.

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