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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Space Rides Said to Cost $200K or More

Three sources said Blue's first passengers are likely to include its own employees, though the company has not selected them yet

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Jeff-Bezo
FILE - Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 5, 2017. (VOA)
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Jeff Bezos’ rocket company plans to charge passengers about $200,000 to $300,000 for its first trips into space next year, two people familiar with its plans told Reuters.

Potential customers and the aerospace industry have been eager to learn the cost of a ticket on Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle, to find out if it is affordable and whether the company can generate enough demand to make a profit on space tourism.

Executives at the company, started by Amazon.com Inc founder Bezos in 2000, told a business conference last month they planned test flights with passengers on the New Shepard soon, and to start selling tickets next year.

The company, based about 20 miles (32 km) south of Seattle, has made public the general design of the vehicle — comprising a launch rocket and detachable passenger capsule — but has been tight-lipped on production status and ticket prices.

Blue Origin representatives did not respond to requests for comment on its programs and pricing strategy. Bezos said in May ticket prices had not yet been decided.

One Blue Origin employee with first-hand knowledge of the pricing plan said the company will start selling tickets in the range of about $200,000 to $300,000. A second employee said tickets would cost a minimum of $200,000. They both spoke on condition of anonymity as the pricing strategy is confidential.

The New Shepard is designed to autonomously fly six passengers more than 62 miles (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 pressurized capsule returns to Earth under parachutes.

The capsule features six observation windows Blue Origin says are nearly three times as tall as those on a Boeing Co 747 jetliner.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin (Wikimedia commons)

Blue Origin has completed eight test flights of the vertical takeoff and landing of New Shepard from its launch pad in Texas, but none with passengers aboard. Two flights have included a test dummy the company calls “Mannequin Skywalker.”

The company will do the first test in space of its capsule escape system, which propels the crew to safety should the booster explode, “within weeks,” one of the employees said.

Small step for a man

Blue Origin, whose Latin motto means “step by step, ferociously,” is working toward making civilian space flight an important niche in the global space economy, alongside satellite services and government exploration projects, already worth over $300 billion a year.

Bezos, the world’s richest person with a fortune of about $112 billion, has competition from fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk, Tesla Inc’s chief executive.

Branson’s Virgin Galactic says it has sold about 650 tickets aboard its own planned space voyages, but has not set out a date for flights to start. The company is charging $250,000 per ticket, in line with Blue Origin’s proposed pricing.

Also Read: Russia Just Launched the Fastest Cargo Mission Ever to the Space Station

SpaceX, founded by Musk in 2002, says its ultimate goal is to enable people to live on other planets.

All three are looking to slash the cost of spaceflight by developing reusable spacecraft, meaning prices for passengers and payloads should drop as launch frequency increases.

While Blue Origin has not disclosed its per-flight operating costs, Teal Group aerospace analyst Marco Caceres estimated each flight could cost the firm about $10 million. With six passengers per trip, that would mean losing millions of dollars per launch, at least initially.

Three sources said Blue’s first passengers are likely to include its own employees, though the company has not selected them yet. (VOA)

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NASA picks ‘Blue Origin’ As One of The 6 Companies for Developing ‘Tipping Point’

A technology is considered at a "tipping point" if investment in a ground or flight demonstration will result in significantly maturing the technology.

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The US space agency on Wednesday said it will invest for the purpose approximately $44 million. Pixabay

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin is among the six companies NASA has selected for developing 10 “tipping point” technologies that have the potential to significantly benefit commercial space economy and future NASA missions, including lunar lander and deep space rocket engine technologies.

The US space agency on Wednesday said it will invest for the purpose approximately $44 million – a significant investment in the US space industry.

The other five companies selected for the award are – Space Systems/Loral (SSL), United Launch Alliance (ULA), Frontier Aerospace Corp, Paragon Space Development Corp and Astrobotic Technology.

“These awards focus on technology collaborations with the commercial space sector that leverage emerging markets and capabilities to meet NASA’s exploration goals,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

These companies focus on areas such as, enabling efficient and safe transportation into and through space.
These companies focus on areas such as, enabling efficient and safe transportation into and through space.

“While these key technologies will support NASA’s science and human exploration missions in the future, these awards are yet another example of NASA’s commitment to our nation’s growing commercial space industry today,” Bridenstine added.

NASA requires these companies to focus on areas such as expanding utilisation of space, enabling efficient and safe transportation into and through space, and increase access to planetary surfaces.

Selections were based on the agency’s third competitive Tipping Point solicitation.

Also Read: Jeff Bezoz’s Blue Origin Launches Spacecraft Higher Than Ever

A technology is considered at a “tipping point” if investment in a ground or flight demonstration will result in significantly maturing the technology and improving the company’s ability to bring it to market. (IANS)