Bezos brothers to ride Blue Origin’s inaugural human spaceflight

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO and Blue Origin founder, will be a surprise passenger on the inaugural human flight of New Shepard, the suborbital spacecraft system newly developed by Blue Origin.

Making the surprise announcement on his Instagram account, Jeff Bezos, 57, revealed that he has invited his brother Mark Bezos, 53, to join him on his microgravity spaceflight on July 20, 2021, that will also see four other as yet unnamed passengers onboard the reusable suborbital spacecraft.

Jeff Bezos Instagram announcement:

US$188 billion net worth

Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, with a net worth of US$188 billion, said: “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of travelling to space.

“On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

The Bezos brothers are “best of friends” and will share their space ride on July 20, 2021. Credit: Blue Origin

Blue Origin is auctioning one seat on the July 20 spaceflight, with the highest bid currently pegged at US$3.2 million with more than 6,800 bidders from over 152 countries.

June 12 deadline

Bidding is underway now at and concludes with a live online auction on June 12.

The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help develop humanity’s life in space.

The New Shepard booster and crew capsule has undertaken 15 unmanned test spaceflights to date. Credit: Blue Origin

New Shepard consists of a booster segment and crew capsule and is named after NASA’s Mercury capsule astronaut Alan Shepard who was the second human to reach space – after the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin – and the first American to travel to space on May 5, 1961.

The 60-foot fully reusable, vertical takeoff, vertical landing New Shepard space vehicle is designed to take six astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line – the internationally recognised boundary of space located approximately 96km above the surface of Earth.

Vertical launch

The combined vehicles launch vertically, accelerating for approximately two and a half minutes, before the engine cuts off.

The capsule then separates from the booster to coast silently into space.

After a few minutes of free fall back to Earth, the booster performs an autonomously controlled rocket-powered vertical landing on land, while the capsule drops softly under parachutes to land, both ready to be used again.

The New Shepard capsule is equipped with large windows, offering occupants a breathtaking experience as they lift off from Earth, reach suborbital space and return to Earth.

The New Shepard crew capsule is designed to land safely with 3 parachutes. Credit: Blue Origin

Making its maiden human flight from Blue Origin’s launch facility West Texas on July 20, 2021, a date that especially commemorates the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing, New Shepard will carry both the Bezos brothers and the rest of the crew to the Kármán line, where they will witness the borderless Earth and the thin limb of Earth’s atmosphere in a total flight time of approximately 11 minutes.

New Shepard has to date flown 15 successful consecutive unmanned test flights above the Kármán line and back to Earth, with its last test flight taking place on April 14, 2021.

Heated space race

Blue Origin is seeing heated competition from fellow American space companies to get paying private astronauts and payloads aboard their suborbital and orbital assets.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is set to undertake its first commercial space flight by 2022, while Elon Musk’s SpaceX is already a key player in the global space industry.

To date, neither Richard Branson nor Elon Musk has announced concrete plans about their riding their own space vehicles.

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