Next week, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is planning to fulfill a childhood ambition, one made possible by virtue of his status as one of the richest men in the world. Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon’s CEO in recent days exactly 27 years after founding the e-commerce giant, also leads his own private space company, Blue Origin. And it’s one of Blue Origin’s vehicles, the New Shepard, that will accommodate Bezos’ space flight on July 20, making him the second billionaire in the span of a week to venture to the edge of space.
Jeff Bezos space flight — how to watch
What’s happening: Blue Origin is making its 16th New Shepard flight to space next week. But it will be the first with astronauts on board.
You can follow along at BlueOrigin.com, which will broadcast live starting at 6:30 am Central Time on July 20. Currently, liftoff is set to happen at 8:00 am Central Time that day. And after the launch, that website will also carry a live press conference with the astronauts.
#NewShepard is go for launch on July 20 for #NSFirstHumanFlight. This is the 16th flight and first with astronauts on board. Watch live at https://t.co/7Y4TherpLr. Coverage starts at 6:30 am CDT / 11:30 UTC. pic.twitter.com/hYv68UlCqm
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 12, 2021
According to the company, “Blue Origin’s Launch Site One is in a remote location in the West Texas desert, and there are no on-site public viewing areas in the vicinity of the launch site.” The Texas Department of Transportation will close part of State Highway 54 adjacent to the launch site. Safety officials also will not allow spectators on the closed portion of the road during the launch.
Bezos’ space flight, meanwhile, will come a little more than a week after a similar voyage by another billionaire.
Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson on Sunday took one of his company’s space planes about 50 miles up, as part of a kind of demonstration project. One showing that his company will eventually be able to give passengers who can pay up a similar ride.
Branson and five crew members took in what he described as a breathtaking view of Earth and experienced a few minutes of weightlessness before returning into the atmosphere and touching down in New Mexico.
The vehicle that makes Bezos’ space flight possible, meanwhile, is more of a traditional rocket. It will launch vertically, with a capsule that eventually detaches and returns to Earth via a parachute. While the larger booster rocket, meanwhile, returns for a vertical landing. As far as Bezos’ trip itself, he’s made clear on numerous occasions that his vision — like that of other billionaires, including Elon Musk — is for humanity to eventually be multi-planetary.
“We are going to build a road to space,” Bezos said, during a 2019 presentation. “And then amazing things will happen.”
Moreover, there’s an urgency to all this. Driven in part by the rising cost of energy. “We will run out of energy,” Bezos said at the time. “This is just arithmetic. It’s going to happen.”