Bezos Riding Own Rocket on Company’s 1st Flight With People

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) -
A helicopter lands on a property owned by billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos near his launch complex. Bezos and his three crew-mates are one day away from Blue Origin’s inaugural human flight to the edge of space, in West Texas, Texas, Monday. (Reuters/Joe Skipper)

Jeff Bezos is about to soar on his space travel company’s first flight with people on board.

The founder of Blue Origin as well as Amazon on Tuesday will become the second billionaire to ride his own rocket. He’ll launch from West Texas with his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever hurtle off the planet.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket is set to blast off with its eclectic group of passengers on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Bezos is aiming for an altitude of roughly 66 miles (106 kilometers), more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) higher than Richard Branson’s ride on July 11.

The capsule is fully automated, so there’s no need for trained staff on the quick up-and-down flight, expected to last just 10 minutes. Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane needs two pilots to operate.

Bezos’ dream-come-true trip follows 15 successful test flights to space by New Shepard rockets since 2015, all of them unoccupied. If successful, Blue Origin plans two more passenger flights by year’s end.