Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is sending himself to space in what is undeniably the most billionaire behaviour of all time. The world’s richest man announced on Instagram today that he and his brother Mark will fly on the first crewed space flight from his rocket company Blue Origin next month.
The Final Frontier
The journey is set to take place on July 20 onboard The New Shepard, a specially-made spacecraft designed to carry six passengers more than 100 km above Earth. Bezos and Mark will be two of the six travellers, with other spots up for grabs at auction. The highest bid for a seat on the space flight was $US2.8 million (AUD 3.6 million).
Jeff Bezos’s space mission comes as the 57-year-old prepares to step down from his role of Amazon’s chief on July 5. The space mission caps off an odd few months for the billionaire, who began the year by announcing his split from wife, MacKenzie Bezos, in January. The pair had been married for a quarter of a century, and the split is tipped to be one of the richest in history.
But Bezos is not in danger of running broke; his net worth is still an estimated $196 billion. The Space Race has become a battle of the billionaires lately, with fellow rich kids Elon Musk and Richard Branson also tipping money into outer space ambitions.
Many congratulations to @JeffBezos & his brother Mark on announcing spaceflight plans. Jeff started building @blueorigin in 2000, we started building @virgingalactic in 2004 & now both are opening up access to Space – how extraordinary! Watch this space…
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) June 7, 2021
Branson was quick to tweet and offer congratulations to Mr Bezos, today’s news ensuring he will be the first of the three to travel into space on a rocket developed by his own company. But not everyone was over the moon (pardon the pun) about Bezos’ big announcement. In April this year, Amazon admitted that some factory workers were forced to urinate in bottles because the company did not allow enough time to take a toilet break.
Jeff Bezos is headed into space…would it be too much to ask him to stay there?
— Brigitte Gabriel (@ACTBrigitte) June 7, 2021
News that Bezos was going to spend billions on sending himself to space was met with eyerolls online, but the Amazon chief executive remained upbeat during the announcement.
Age 57: flying to space w/ brother
Age 49: buys Washington Post
Age 39: survives helicopter crash
Age 36: starts space company
Age 35: becomes billionaire
Age 33: becomes millionaire
Age 30: starts Amazon
Age 22: starts work on Wall St
Age 16: summer job at McDonalds pic.twitter.com/xFBCKZX6Ad
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) June 7, 2021
“You see the Earth from space; it changes you,” Jeff Bezos said in a video announcing his plan. “It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one Earth. I want to go on this flight because it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”
“I wasn’t even expecting him to say that he was going on the first flight,” Mark Bezos added. “And then when he asked me to go along, I was just awestruck. What a remarkable opportunity, not only to have this adventure but to be able to do it with my best friend.”
Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, has announced he is flying to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on July 20!
📹 Jeff Bezos pic.twitter.com/jtrvRhO2Mb
— Everything Space (@totalspace360) June 7, 2021
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Blue Origin, the spaceflight company Bezos founded in 2000, began trialling spacecraft back in 2015. The company is hellbent on owning the space tourism market, and this first flight could go a long way to establish Bezos’ company as the benchmark for space tourism. According to Blur Origin, seats on future trips will be available to the general public for an undisclosed price.