Blue Origin launch: What we know about the Jeff Bezos spaceflight

·Senior Writer
·2-min read

Nine days after billionaire Richard Branson made history by becoming the first person to launch himself into space on his own Virgin Galactic plane, fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos is hoping to do the same on a rocket from his company Blue Origin.

The 57-year-old Amazon founder will climb atop the New Shepard rocket in West Texas on Tuesday, July 20 — the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

It will be the first launch with passengers for Blue Origin, which — like Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX — plans to start flying paying customers in the months ahead.

Who’s flying with Bezos?

Bezos will be joined by his younger brother, Mark; Mary Wallace "Wally" Funk, an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer; and Oliver Daemen, 18, the son of the chief executive of a private equity investment firm and one of the runners-up in a $28 million charitable auction for the mission’s final seat. (Bezos announced that the winner, who remains anonymous for now, had a “scheduling conflict” and will go on a later flight.)

While Branson’s Virgin Galactic was the first into space, the Blue Origin flight will include the youngest (Daemen), the oldest (Funk) and the richest (Bezos) people to make the trip.

And Bezos will also go higher.

Jeff Bezos speaks in front of Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 5, 2017. (Isaiah J. Downing/Reuters)
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2017. (Isaiah J. Downing/Reuters)

Branson’s space plane reached an altitude of 53.5 miles on its July 9 flight. Bezos’s rocket intends to soar past the so-called Karman line 62 miles above Earth, which is recognized by some international aviation and aerospace experts as the threshold of space. (NASA, the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration consider the boundary between the atmosphere and space to begin at 50 miles up.)

And like Branson’s voyage, Bezos’s trip to space will be brief. It's expected to take just 10 minutes — which may disappoint the 160,000 people who signed a petition asking that Bezos not be allowed to return to Earth.

When is the launch?

Yahoo News will carry a livestream of the Blue Origin spaceflight on Tuesday, July 20. Coverage begins at 7:30 a.m. ET, with the launch scheduled for 9 a.m. ET.

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