Blue Origin, the rocket company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, plans to charge passengers at least $2,00,000 (around Rs 1.3 crore) for its first trips into space next year. Bezos’ rocket company is one of the many players in the private space exploration space and will use its New Shepard launch vehicle to send humans into space.
Since Bezos announced his interest in human space exploration with the launch of Blue Origin, potential customers and aerospace industry experts have been waiting to learn about the cost of a ticket to space. Now, Reuters reports that Blue Origin could charge passengers anywhere between $2,00,000 to $3,00,000 for the first trip into space. The report cites people familiar with company’s plans saying that planned test flights with passengers on the New Shepard will take place soon and it plans to start selling tickets next year.
Blue Origin was started by Jeff Bezos and he publicly detailed the plans in 2004. The company based in Seattle, Washington has made public the general design of the vehicle, which will comprise of a launch rocket and a detachable passenger capsule. It initially planned to launch into space in mid-2012 and has remained extremely secretive about its plans.
The New Shepard is a vertical launch and landing vehicle and Blue Origin has tested a prototype version at its test grounds. The launch vehicle has the capability to reach an altitude of about 75 miles. Since Bezos detailed the plans to send humans into space onboard New Shepard, potential customers have been wondering whether it will be affordable. Analysts, on the other hand, have been trying to figure out whether space tourism will drive demand and generate profit.
One Blue Origin employee with knowledge about space exploration plans told Reuters that tickets will start in the range of about $2,00,000 to $3,00,000. Another employee corroborated the detail by adding the tickets would cost a minimum of $2,00,000. The New Shepard vehicle will fly six passengers autonomously more than 62 miles (100 km) above Earth into suborbital space.
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This will allow people to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and observe the curvature of the planet before the pressurized capsule returns to earth under parachutes. Blue Origin says that the capsule features six observation windows that are three times as tall as those on a 747 jetliner from Boeing.
Bezos, the world’s richest person with a fortune of over $100 billion, has pledged his personal networth towards development of Blue Origin. He has competition from SpaceX‘s Elon Musk, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and other private space exploration companies like Orbital Sciences, Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceDev. All these companies are trying to make space exploration affordable by developing reusable spacecraft and Blue Origin might fly its own employees to space before sending customers.