Blue Origin, the rocket company of billionaire Jeff Bezos, is set to open ticket sales for suborbital tourist travel aboard its New Shepard spacecraft on Wednesday, a historic moment as U.S. companies work towards a new era of private commercial space travel.
Blue Origin is expected to announce details of how to buy a seat, when to first fly and how much a ticket costs, which has been a carefully kept secret inside Blue for years.
Reuters reported in 2018 that Blue plans to charge passengers at least $ 200,000 for the ride, based on an assessment of rival plans by billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (SPCE.N) and other considerations, though. that his thinking may have changed.
Blue Origin announced last week that it would start selling tickets soon, after years of testing and development work that included delays.
The Blue’s New Shepard rocket-capsule combo is designed to autonomously transport six passengers more than 100 km above Earth into suborbital space, high enough to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet before the capsule under pressure. returns to earth under parachutes.
The capsule has six viewing windows, according to Blue Origin, nearly three times taller than those of a Boeing Co (BA.N) 747 airliner.
While celebrities and the ultra-rich seem to be a staple market for space travel getaways, at least initially, industry sources expect Blue to include a philanthropic component in its ticketing strategy.
A college science professor and an aerospace data analyst are part of a four-member crew for an orbit launch slated for later this year by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, as part of a charity campaign billed as the first fully civilian space flight in history.
Virgin Galactic also aims to carry private customers in early 2022, after a first flight with Branson on board later this year.
Its weightless experience is anchored in its SpaceShipTwo aircraft, and the company has ambitious plans to offer point-to-point travel between distant cities at elevations close to space.
Virgin says it will charge more than $ 250,000 for new bookings, but has not announced the final price. Sales will reopen after Branson’s flight.
In 2018, a Blue Origin employee with first-hand knowledge of the pricing plan said the company would start selling tickets between $ 200,000 and $ 300,000. A second employee said the tickets would cost at least $ 200,000.
Blue Origin’s announcement will provide Bezos, who founded Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), with much needed boost after Blue Origin lost to SpaceX on a $ 2.9 billion deal under the NASA’s high-level program to bring Americans back to the moon for years to come.
However, NASA has asked SpaceX to halt development work specifically related to the lunar program contract pending the outcome of protests by Blue and rival Dynetics to the US Government Accountability Office.
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