Blue Origin, the aerospace company backed by Jeff Bezos, will begin selling tickets to board its New Shepard rocket ship into the cosmos.
The company hasn't revealed how much tickets will cost, but said more details will land May 5. The spacecraft itself, known as New Shepard, is a 60-foot suborbital rocket-capsule that travels at Mach 3 and is designed to fit six people inside. A video posted on Twitter on Thursday shows New Shepard landing safely back on Earth after a recent flight.
Blue Origin has created an online sign-up page for people seeking a ticket.
The Bezos-backed venture began test flights on New Shepard in 2016. By December 2017, it had. Company officials said its most recent test flight, launched April 14, was significant because it featured personnel entering and exiting the capsule as a rehearsal for human flight. No staff members, however, remained on board for the launch.
"For the first time, Blue Origin personnel standing in as astronauts entered the capsule prior to launch," the company said in test flight notes. "Following the crew capsule landing, the astronauts rehearsed post-flight procedures, hatch opening, and exiting the capsule."
Selling New Shepard tickets is the next step in a dream Bezos reportedly has held since the 1980s. In his 1982 high school graduation speech as valedictorian, Bezos said he wanted to build hotels and colonies in space, the Miami Herald reported.
Bezos, however, has competition in the emerging space-tourism industry. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is expected to begin trips to space early next year. Tickets are more than $250,000 each and the company has reportedly sold more than 600. Virgin Galactic last month revealed the VSS Imagine, one of many spacecrafts it plans to use for space tourism.
"Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet," Branson said in a statement.
Elon Musk's SpaceX, meanwhile, has already sold tickets for a private, 10-day space ride to the International Space Station. That trip is slated to launch later this year. Tickets sold for $55 million each.
Bezos, Branson and Musk are hoping to corner a new industry that's expected to soar like, well, a rocket. A 2019 UBS analysis projected space tourism will be valued at $3 billion by 2030. The larger space industry is expected to be worth $805 billion by that same year, UBS said.
"Space tourism could be the stepping stone for the development of long-haul travel on Earth serviced by space," UBS analysts Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton said in the report.
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