The Amazon founder is scheduled to blast off in the early hours of Tuesday morning aboard his company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft. The 60-foot-tall rocket-and-capsule combo is completely autonomous, meaning no pilot will be aboard.
Instead, the rocket-and-capsule combo will be controlled by flight engineers from a facility in west Texas.
His crew of three includes the oldest and youngest people to ever go to space, 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen. His brother Mark will also be on board with Bezos.
Blue Origin says its spacecraft is ready to go.
“Blue Origin has been flight testing New Shepard and its redundant safety systems since 2012. The program has had 15 successful consecutive missions including three successful escape tests, showing the crew escape system can activate safely in any phase of flight,” the company says on its website.
The Shepard spacecraft, named after Alan Shepard, an astronaut who in 1961 became the first American in space, will soar 62 miles up before the capsule re-enters the atmosphere and returns to Earth by parachute.
Bezos will best Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, who earlier this month flew to 53 miles above Earth.
Before Branson’s flight, Team Bezos threw some shade at the billionaire.
“Only 4% of the world recognizes a lower limit of 80 km or 50 miles as the beginning of space. New Shepard flies above both boundaries. One of the many benefits of flying with Blue Origin,” they wrote on Twitter.
And they tossed out another dig: “From the beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name. For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km up at the internationally recognized Kármán line.”