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Jeff Bezos headed to space: Amazon billionaire set to fly on Blue Origin's first crewed mission this July
This July, two weeks after he's set to leave his position as CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is heading to space. The billionaire announced Monday that he will be onboard the first crewed voyage of New Shepard, a space flight system designed by his company Blue Origin, when it leaves Earth for a brief flight on July 20.
Bezos revealed the news in an Instagram post that also included a video in which he invited his brother to make the voyage with him.
"Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space," Bezos wrote. "On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend."
In addition to Bezos and his brother, the six-person mission will also include the winner of an auction launched last month by Blue Origin to sell off a seat on the flight. The current highest bid for that seat sits at $2.8 million, with the auction set to conclude this Saturday with a live-bidding finale. The proceeds from the auction are set to go to Blue Origin's Club for the Future Foundation, which works to inspire future STEM careers and "help invent the future of life in space."
According to Variety, the flight is planned to last about 11 minutes, propelling New Shepard 60 miles above Earth before the crew returns to the planet.
“To see the Earth from space, it changes you, changes your relationship with this planet. It’s one Earth,” Bezos said in the Instagram video. “I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”
Founded in 2000, Blue Origin has been testing its New Shepard space flight system since 2012 as part of a larger plan that includes reusable rockets and an eventual permanent home on the moon. The company stands alongside Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk's SpaceX as one of the most prominent private space flight groups in the world, and while both Branson and Musk are also planning to make the journey to the stars soon, it looks like Bezos will beat them to the punch on a date selected in part because it marks the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Bezos announced in February that he was leaving his CEO position at Amazon in part to spend more time working directly with Blue Origin. With a current estimated net worth of $187.5 billion, he can afford to, and it's possible he'll like what he sees in space so much that he'll one day decamp to a luxury moon base and never come back down.